Comparison of the efficacy of auricular vagus nerve stimulation and conventional low back rehabilitation in patients with chronic low back pain

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2024 May 28;56:101862. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2024.101862. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: In recent years, human and animal studies have provided increasing evidence that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) can produce analgesic effects as well as alleviating resistant epilepsy and depression. Our study was designed to compare the efficacy of transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation with conventional low back rehabilitation in patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP).

METHODS: Sixty patients with LBP were randomly divided into two groups. Group 1 received conventional rehabilitation and home exercise, and Group 2 received transcutaneous auricular VNS and home exercise. Both groups received treatment five days a week for three weeks. Trunk mobility (Modified Schober test, fingertip-to-floor test), muscle strength (CSMI-Cybex Humac-Norm isokinetic dynamometer and Lafayette manual muscle strength measuring device), trunk endurance, balance tests, Visual Analog Scale, Beck Depression Scale, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Oswestry Disability Index were evaluated.

RESULTS: At the end of three weeks, within-group assessment results showed positive effects on mobility, functional status, depression and sleep in all groups (p < 0.05). Pain level, endurance time and flexion trunk muscle strength results showed more improvement in Group 2 (p < 0.05). Some parameters of isokinetic lower extremity quadriceps muscle strength and fall risk scores showed a significant improvement in Group 1 (p < 0.05).

DISCUSSION: VNS has been observed to be more effective on pain, trunk muscle strength and endurance duration and sleep status. Auricular VNS may be included in the treatment of patients with CLBP in whom conventional physical therapy is inadequate or not applicable.

PMID:38815433 | DOI:10.1016/j.ctcp.2024.101862