Low Level Laser Therapy 

For Migraines and Headaches

Low Level Laser Therapy for Migraines and Headaches

Headaches can have a wide variety of triggers, from hormonal, genetic, and environmental, to emotional or neurological causes. The pain can be dull and mild, or sharp and stabbing, lasting for several minutes to several days. Current treatments can produce results that are just as variable. And with over 4 million people still suffering from chronic daily migraines, laser therapy can provide some hopeful relief.

Low level laser therapy (LLLT) has been shown to treat temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), sinus headaches, cluster headaches, tension headaches, migraines, and cervicogenic headaches.  It does this by increasing local microcirculation, increasing the levels of serotonin in the blood (the body’s natural feel good chemical), releasing endogenous opioids (the body’s innate pain relieving system), and altering cholinesterase levels (the enzymes needed for proper functioning of the nervous system).

One study found that light therapy increases serotonin and blood flow in patients with TMJ syndrome. All patients reported pain relief, the average pain score decreasing from a 9.1 to a 3.3 (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most painful). The seratonin levels of the patients were found to be elevated even three days after each laser therapy treatment.

Another study concluded significant improvements in headache intensity, duration of attack, and median number of days of headache per month in 50 people with chronic tension headaches treated with LLLT. And lastly, another study showed a 39% improvement in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis after two weeks of LLLT treatment, and a 46.34% improvement after four weeks!

A number of clinical trials have been performed in order to determine the efficacy of Laser Therapy for Migraines, both in children and adults. Gottschling et al. examined the effect of laser acupuncture on children with migraines or tension-type headaches. Over a four month clinical trial, they found that the laser treated group had a significant decrease in the number of headaches per month, a reduction in the severity of the pain and duration as compared to the placebo treated group. Ebneshahidi et al. also used laser acupuncture to show that adult patients suffering from tension-type headaches showed a significant decrease in headache intensity, the duration of attacks and number of days with headache per month, compared to the placebo treated group. For more than 40 years, Laser Therapy has been effectively used in the treatment of acute and chronic conditions, including degenerative disc disease, repetitive stress injuries, muscle strains, sprains and arthritis.6 Laser Therapy is a non-invasive, pain-free, light-based therapy that uses a combination of red and infrared light in the form of superluminous light-emitting diodes and laser diodes. The power output of these devices is below the level of surgical and other high-intensity lasers. Photon particles of light are absorbed by the mitochondria through cytochrome c oxidase and result in increased cellular ATP levels. Both Laser Therapy and acupuncture have been shown to increase endogenous opioid production and release, in addition to elevating the pain threshold levels.

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Michael Nixon, L.Ac.D.O.M., is an Acupuncture Physician who is nationally certified in Laser Acupuncture with over 40 years of experience in the treatment of neck and back pain. He has a 90% success rate in the treatment of pain and many more successes in other treatment areas.