Low Level Laser Therapy for Trigeminal Neuralgia

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Trigeminal neuralgia is a debilitating pain condition involving the trigeminal nerve, the largest and most complex of the 12 cranial nerves. This chronic disorder affects 4.7 per 100,000 men and 1.2 per 100,000 women, usually occurring in patients over the age of 50. 1-2% of those suffering from multiple sclerosis will also have the disease.

 

The cause of trigeminal neuralgia is very poorly understand, however there are some theories and possible primary etiologies that offer some explanation. It can be caused by the compression of the facial nerve by surrounding blood vessels, trauma, dental surgery, tumors, or aneurysms. The pain of trigeminal neuralgia is periodic, intense, shooting, and electric shock like. It can be triggered by light mechanical movements such as touching, talking, eating, drinking, tooth-brushing, etc. The duration of the pain can last from seconds to 1 to 2 minutes. It can occur daily for weeks and months with periods of remissions, or from several to hundreds of times per day.

 

Current treatment of trigeminal neuralgia is often ineffective and the pain can often not be controlled with medication. Treatment options include anti-convulsive drugs, opioids, or surgery (nerve destruction to reduce pain by destroying the nerve branches, ultimately resulting in numbness). Fortunately, low level laser therapy (LLLT) has been shown to reduce inflammation causing pressure on nerves, produce and release beta endorphins (the body’s source of natural pain relief), improve lymphatic drainage and edema, stimulate the immune system, and much more.

 

The Bioflex laser system used at Acubalance does this by allowing light to be absorbed  by photons in cells to elicit cellular and biological responses in the body. One of the major mechanisms is increased ATP production in the cell’s mitochondria which leads to a cascade of secondary effects including increased signal transduction, DNA synthesis, cell proliferation and differentiation, tissue regeneration, modulation of pro and anti-inflammatory mediators, and collagen formation. It believed that these biological factors can treat the root cause of pain from trigeminal neuralgia.

 

A case study of how low level laser therapy effects injured nerves reveals an increase of nerve function and improved capacity for myelin production, the protective sheaths surrounding nerve cells. They also concluded that LLLT is effective for promoting axonal growth injured nerves by decreasing prostaglandin synthesis, increasing beta endorphins, increasing the pain threshold in nerve fibers, decreasing histamine and serotonin secretion, decreasing bradykinin synthesis, changing norepinephrine and epinephrine activity, increasing ATP production, activating lymph node circulation enhancement, and decreasing edema.

 

Another case study examined the use of low level laser therapy on maxillofacial disorders with tremendous results. In 165 patients with temporomandibular joint pain, trigeminal neuralgia, muscular pain, inflammation, and tooth hypersensitivity, 120 were deemed asymptomatic (entirely free of pain) after 12 weeks of treatment (2 laser treatments per week), and 25 were considered improved. These preliminary results indicate that LLLT is an important tool and brings many benefits for the treatment of many disorders of the maxillofacial region.

Call Acubalance at 604-678-8600 to book a free 15 minute Q&A to see if laser therapy & acupuncture is right for you.

 

More resources on using LLLT for pain and infertility