Pain: Is It All in the Brain or the Heart?

AbstractPurpose of ReviewScientists have reported that pain is always created by the brain. This may not be entirely true. Pain is not only a sensory experience, but also can be associated with emotional, cognitive, and social components. The heart is considered the source of emotions, desire, and wisdom. Therefore, the aim of this article was to review the available evidence about the role of the heart in pain modulation.Recent FindingsDr. Armour, in 1991, discovered that the heart has its “little brain” or “intrinsic cardiac nervous system.” This “heart brain” is composed of approximately 40,000 neurons that are alike neurons in the brain, meaning that the heart has its own nervous system. In addition, the heart communicates with the brain in many methods: neurologically, biochemically, biophysically, and energetically. The vagus nerve, which is 80% afferent, carries information from the heart and other internal organs to the brain. Signals from the “heart brain” redirect to the medulla, hypothalamus, thalamus, and amygdala and the cerebral cortex. Thus, the hea rt sends more signals to the brain than vice versa. Research has demonstrated that pain perception is modulated by neural pathways and methods targeting the heart such as vagus nerve stimulation and heart-rhythm coherence feedback techniques.SummaryThe heart is not just a pump. It has its neural network or “little brain.” The methods targeting the heart mod...
Source: Current Pain and Headache Reports - Category: Neurology Source Type: research

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Conclusions: When comparing nVNS with sham, no statistically significant differences were found with regards to the primary endpoint of pain freedom at 120 minutes, although differences were found with various secondary endpoints and post hoc analysis. nVNS is likely a safe alternative to medications.
Source: The Neurologist - Category: Neurology Tags: Critically Appraised Topics Source Type: research
CONCLUSIONS: The present study does not support an acute effect of nVNS on descending pain inhibition, pain intensity perception or supraspinal nociception in healthy adults. However, there was a small effect on pain unpleasantness during nVNS, suggesting that nVNS may preferentially act on affective, not somatosensory pain components. PMID: 32592516 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Source: Headache - Category: Neurology Authors: Tags: Headache Source Type: research
Experimental and clinical data strongly support vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) as a novel treatment in migraine. Vagus nerve stimulation acutely suppresses cortical spreading depression (CSD) susceptibility, an experimental model that has been used to screen for migraine therapies. However, mechanisms underlying VNS efficacy on CSD are unknown. Here, we interrogated the central and peripheral mechanisms using VNS delivered either invasively (iVNS) or noninvasively (nVNS) in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Cortical spreading depression susceptibility was evaluated 40 minutes after the stimulation. iVNS elevated the electrical CSD ...
Source: Pain - Category: Anesthesiology Tags: Research Paper Source Type: research
ConclusionsCervical nVNS is effective for acute pain relief for migraine and cluster headache.Systematic review registrationPROSPERO registration number CRD42019126009.
Source: Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface - Category: Biotechnology Authors: Tags: Clinical Research Source Type: research
Conclusion ANT-DBS and VNS may influence epilepsy-associated chronic headache in different ways. [...] Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New YorkArticle in Thieme eJournals: Table of contents  |  Abstract  |  Full text
Source: Journal of Neurological Surgery Part A: Central European Neurosurgery - Category: Neurosurgery Authors: Tags: Case Report Source Type: research
Migraine is a prevalent neurological disease that is characterized by unpredictable episodic attacks of intense head pain. The underlying pathology involves sensitization and activation of the trigeminal system. Although non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) is recommended for the treatment of migraine, the abortive mechanism of action is not well-understood. The goal of this study was to compare the ability of nVNS and sumatriptan to inhibit trigeminal activation in two animal models of episodic migraine and to investigate the receptor mechanism of action of nVNS. Nocifensive head withdrawal response was investigate...
Source: Frontiers in Neurology - Category: Neurology Source Type: research
ConclusionOur results suggest that taVNS at 1 Hz can significantly modulate activity/connectivity of brain regions associated with the vagus nerve central pathway and pain modulation system, which may shed light on the neural mechanisms underlying taVNS treatment of migraine.
Source: NeuroImage: Clinical - Category: Radiology Source Type: research
Purpose of review Cluster headache stands among the worst debilitating pain conditions. Available treatments for cluster headache have often disabling side effects, are not tolerated, or are ineffective. The management of drug-refractory chronic forms is challenging. New treatments are warranted and reported here. Recent findings In cluster headache acute treatment, delivery systems like Demand Valve Oxygen or nonrebreather-type masks could enhance the effectiveness of inhaled oxygen therapy. Noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation relieves cluster headache pain at short-term in episodic patients. Sphenopalatine ganglion ...
Source: Current Opinion in Neurology - Category: Neurology Tags: HEADACHE: Edited by Messoud Ashina and Henrik Winther Schytz Source Type: research
This study aims to investigate the neural pathways associated with taVNS in patients with migraine.
Source: BRAIN STIMULATION: Basic, Translational, and Clinical Research in Neuromodulation - Category: Neurology Authors: Source Type: research
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