Yes, there is current interest in using lasers to treat migraine. In this case, low level laser therapy, otherwise known as LLLT.
The idea of adding more light and heat to migraine may not sound appealing at first. But LLLT is a non-invasive and non-painful therapy that has been used for a number of pain conditions including headache disorders. There are specific laser treatment devices that are used for certain conditions.In the case of LLLT, the lasers are set at a lower level than what is used for surgeries. This is not a cutting treatment. Instead, it stimulates your cells in certain ways that may promote healing.
The trials of this type of laser therapy for various conditions have not always had spectacular results. However, since the therapy seems to be side effect free and non-invasive, there is some interest in further researching the treatment.
So that brings us to migraine. Currently, The San Francisco Clinical Research Center is putting together a sham-controlled, single attack study to test the effectiveness of LLLT for migraine. Now, this is a very specific and small study, but it might be a place to start.
The LLLT needs to have a target. In this case, it’s the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG). The SPG, a nerve cluster behind the nose, is already the focus of migraine treatment (and cluster headache treatment). Injections to this site have shown great promise in migraine treatment – could laser therapy do the same thing?
This study won’t give us all the answers, because it will not be a series of treatments (which may be what is needed) but only a single treatment.
However, if this treatment can help with a single attack, it could be another situation where a migraine patient could have a hand-held device at home that would allow them to treat themselves.
If you’re interested, you can talk to a migraine specialist about this treatment. If they have had success with their patients, it might be something to pursue.
Meanwhile, we’ll look forward to hearing about future research.
For more information:
- An example of a laser therapy device: K-Laser
- Laser Therapy overview
- A Skeptical Look at Low Level Laser Therapy
- Study of Low-level Laser Therapy in the Acute Treatment of Migraine – the clinical trial mentioned above
- Cold Laser Treatment: Uses, Benefits, and Effects specifically for headache