(HealthDay News) – Occipital nerve stimulation (ONS) appears to be beneficial in fibromyalgia, with improvements seen in pain and quality of life, and is associated with alterations in activation patterns in areas involved in the cerebral pain matrix, according to two studies presented at the International Neuromodulation Society’s 11th World Congress, “Technology Transforming Chronic Illness Management,” held from June 8–13 in Berlin.

Mark Plazier, MD, from University Hospital Antwerp in Belgium, implanted a lead just underneath the occipital protuberans in 25 patients with fibromyalgia. ONS was carried out for six months. Significant improvements were observed at six months on the fibromyalgia impact questionnaire, numerical rating scale for pain, pain catastrophizing scale, pain vigilance and awareness questionnaire, and the numeric rating scale for life quality.

In a second study, Plazier performed positron emission tomography scans in six patients with fibromyalgia and an implanted occipital nerve stimulator, with and without stimulation. Significant differences were observed in activation and deactivation patterns in areas involved in the cerebral pain matrix. During stimulation, the radioactive tracer profile was significantly altered in the anterior cingulate cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and other regions.

“Greater occipital nerve stimulation affects supratentorial brain areas involved in pain. This information might be of importance to explore the possibilities and to explain the working mechanisms of occipital nerve stimulation,” Plazier writes in the second study.

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