Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) for Migraines Caused By Traumatic Brain Injury?

Dear Pain Matters blog readers,

Low level laser therapy (LLLT) may alleviate migraines in some cases.

Case Study:

A 25-year old man suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) when he was savagely attacked and repeatedly hit over the head with a lead pipe in May 2010.  He required many surgical stitches and sutures to close the head injury, and was left with a permanent scar on his brain.

Since that fateful day, the TBI victim experienced ongoing excruciating and incapacitating migraines for 2 long years.  His daily migraine pain ranged from 7 to 10 (on a scale from 0 to 10, using the visual analog scale ‘VAS’).  He stated that his migraines were ‘throbbing’ and ‘squeezing’, and were mainly in his occipital part of his brain.  He was unable to sleep properly nor play with his 4 children (aged up to 9) due to his constant migraines.

After ‘literally trying everything’ for 2 long years, and almost giving up hope, he agreed to try LLLT.  He was given 5 LLLT treatments over 2 weeks.

Specifically, LLLT treatment was delivered at 905 nm (near infrared) superpulsed wavelength set to 50 mW average power.  His LLLT targeted 4 areas on his scalp, 2.5 minutes each area (i.e. the occipital region, the area above the Circle of Willis as well as above the mastoid processes, both right and left side), totalling 10 minutes per treatment.

Results:

Following the first 10-minute-treatment, the patient immediately reported a 43% reduction in migraine pain (i.e. from VAS = 7 to VAS = 4).  He added that the ‘throbbing’ and ‘squeezing’ part of his migraine had disappeared immediately following his first LLLT treatment, and he was left with a residual ‘dull achy pain’.

He continued with 4 additional LLLT treatments, and his migraine pain further diminished after each treatment.

After completing 5 LLLT treatments (10 minutes per LLLT treatment), the patient’s overall migraine pain had decreased by more than 90%, while a ‘minor ache’ remained (that was hardly noticeable to him).

The patient had no side effects other than a slight ‘warm’ feeling above the region where the laser was placed.

The patient no longer has constant excruciating migraine pain, and his family says he looks much happier.  After 2 years of severely excruciating ‘throbbing’ and ‘squeezing’ migraines, he was finally able to sleep properly.

Possible Mechanisms:

Low level laser therapy (LLLT) may reduce inflammation and promote temporary vasodilation in capillaries by activating the nitric oxide pathway, leading to increased blood flow.  This may enhance oxygen delivery to TBI-affected brain regions that may ultimately lead to decreased migraine pain.

The 905 nm ‘pulsed’ (as opposed to ‘continuous’) wavelength may increase the expression of the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) gene by 700% (Stephan et al, 2012; Moriyama et al, 2009).

Summary:

Mr Banas has achieved significant success with most of his LLLT-treated migraine patients (more than 65 migraine patients including TBI and non TBI) (Stephan et al, 2012).

Targeted low level laser therapy (LLLT)  may offer significant, life-changing relief from pain due to migraines.

Sabina Walker

“Sedare dolorem divinum opus est”
“It is divine to alleviate pain”

Galen, 130-200 C.E.

REFERENCES

(1) Stephan W, Banas L , Bennett M and Tunceroglu H.

Efficacy of super-pulsed 905 nm Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) in the management of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A case study.

World Journal of Neuroscience (2012), 2, 231-233.

doi: 10.4236/wjns.2012.24035

http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=24793

(2) Moriyama Y, Nguyen J, Akens M, Moriyama E H, Lilge L,

In vivo effects of low level laser therapy on inducible nitric oxide synthase.

Lasers Surg. Med. (2009), 41: 227–231.

doi:10.1002/lsm.20745

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19291752

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