Review of the Uses of Vagal Nerve Stimulation in Chronic Pain Management

  • Krishnan Chakravarthy
  • Hira Chaudhry
  • Kayode Williams
  • Paul J. Christo
Neuromodulation (M Gofeld, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Neuromodulation


Recent human and animal studies provide growing evidence that vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) can deliver strong analgesic effects in addition to providing therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of refractory epilepsy and depression. Analgesia is potentially mediated by vagal afferents that inhibit spinal nociceptive reflexes and transmission and have strong anti-inflammatory properties. The purpose of this review is to provide pain practitioners with an overview of VNS technology and limitations. It specifically focuses on clinical indications of VNS for various chronic pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia, pelvic pain, and headaches. We also present potential mechanisms for VNS modulation of chronic pain by reviewing both animal and human studies.


Vagal nerve stimulation Chronic pain Headache Inflammation Pelvic pain Fibromyalgia 


Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Krishnan Chakravarthy, Hira Chaudhry, and Paul J. Christo declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Kayode Williams declares a grant from Medtronic Inc. to study Mechanisms of Spinal Cord Stimulation for the treatment of Chronic Pain.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krishnan Chakravarthy
    • 1
  • Hira Chaudhry
    • 1
  • Kayode Williams
    • 1
  • Paul J. Christo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Division of Pain MedicineJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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