Laser Treatments can be Effective for Nerve Pain and Damage
Naturopathic Medicine: Laser Treatments can be Effective for Nerve Pain and Damage
By Jennifer Krieger, ND
PINS AND NEEDLES – BURNING – TINGLING – STINGING – ACHING – NUMB – WEAK – SENSITIVE – these are the words that my patients often use to describe the pain they are experiencing that is caused by neuropathy. Neuropathy is the term used to describe nerve pain, inflammation or damage. If you suffer from neuropathy, you know that it can be miserable to deal with acutely or chronically. Patients are often extremely uncomfortable, and aggressive cases of neuropathy can inhibit fine motor skills, walking and even the simplest activities of daily living.
There are many different causes for neuropathy. It is a common side effect of numerous chemotherapy drugs. Other common causes are poorly controlled diabetes, environmental toxins, infections, injuries and the shingles virus. There are different ways to approach the treatment of neuropathy. Specific vitamins and herbs can help support nerve health and regrowth. There are prescription medications and topical creams that can also help with the pain and discomfort caused by neuropathy. It is important to address the underlying cause of neuropathy, as is the case if it is caused by diabetes.
If the nerve has already been damaged, treatments for neuropathy can often take time as it is necessary promote nerve regrowth. There is one tool that I have been fortunate enough to use in clinical practice for neuropathy, and I have seen great success in the treatment of CIPN (chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy) and post-herpetic neuralgia (nerve pain that remains after a shingles virus outbreak). This tool is called the Low Level Laser (LLL) and it has been extremely helpful for my patients dealing with the above diagnoses.
Light is crucial for life. We know this based on the simple fact that our lives as we currently know them would cease to exist if the sun was extinguished. The LLL works by tapping into the power of light. The light energies of the human body are invisible to the naked eye, but present nonetheless. Each cell in our body has the ability to emit and absorb light particles, known as photons. The LLL works by locally emitting a specific light wavelength into cells that we are focusing on targeting, in this case – the actual nerves. By doing this, the mitochondria (how a cell makes energy) are increased to repair the damaged cell, healing is stimulated, inflammation is decreased at the cellular level and the nerve now has the ability to repair and/or regrow.
Treatments last about 20 minutes per session. It is recommended to have two sessions per week for a minimum of six sessions. Sometimes the neuropathic pain slightly worsens after a LLL session – but this is a sign that the nerve cells are actually repairing and healing. Patients usually report a significant improvement in neuropathy after a couple of sessions, and results can range from complete resolution of the neuropathy to a marked improvement in pain and other symptoms.
LLL is specifically programmed to treat a range of other medical conditions such as: a wide variety of musculoskeletal pain such as joint, muscle or back pain, acne, bladder incontinence and inflammatory bowel disease.
Neuropathy is challenging to live with and may seem unsurmountable. Don’t despair! The Low Level Laser is a lesser known option that is readily accessible and pleasingly effective for the treatment of nerve pain and damage.