Can a medical device inhibit inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis?
A completely new method of treating rheumatoid arthritis that does not involve drugs may be on the horizon.
In 2016, a team of researchers from several countries, including the U.S., reported that stimulating the vagus nerve with an electrical pulse appeared to inhibit the production of some of the inflammation-promoting proteins – called cytokines – commonly seen in people with RA.
The study, headed by physicians at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, involved implanting a small medical device similar to a cardiac pacemaker under the skin in the chest wall and connecting wires from the device to the vagus nerve in the neck. The device, which is really a small electrical generator, was programmed to deliver small electrical pulses to stimulate the nerve up to four times each day.
The vagus nerve is located on both the left and right sides of the body and runs from the brainstem through the neck into the chest and abdomen. One of the longest of all the cranial nerves, the vagus nerve serves several important functions. It regulates the heartbeat, breathing and sweating. It helps keep the larynx open during breathing and enables us to speak. It also connects to the stomach and gut, telling the brain when we’ve ingested food, then signaling that it’s been digested and triggering the brain to empty the digested food from the stomach into the intestines. It also controls bowel movements.
|Read Full Article: Promising New Non-Drug Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis on the Horizon | Patient Advice | US News|