Laser Therapy: Infrared Photo Energy May Reduce Neuropathic Pain
Diabetic neuropathy is a common health problem today which often poses a variety of clinical challenges. In this article, Dr. Thomas J. Burke reports on the results of a study utilizing phototherapy (non-coherent light therapy) on patients with neuropathies. This is an exciting paper and demonstrates the potential value of light therapy in these clinical conditions. There is a rapidly increasing body of evidence that is demonstrating the clinical value of using non laser light therapy for a wide variety of painful conditions.
William J. Kneebone, DC, CNC, DIHom, FIAMA, DIACT
Thomas J. Burke, PhD
In a recent issue of Practical Pain Management, two papers discussed treatment of pain patients using FDA cleared alternative modalities referred to generically as light therapy.1,2 This paper describes the effects of light therapy on the pain accompanying neuropathy. Pain is a common complaint of patients with peripheral neuropathy (PN) due to either diabetes or other causes and it often interferes with quality of life, irrespective of pharmaceutical intervention.3 For example, painful PN may be a complication from 1) chemotherapy drugs, 2) metabolic diseases such as hypothyroidism, 3) abuse of alcohol, 4) environmental toxins or drugs, 5) certain viral infections, 7) scar tissue formation following surgery, or 6) it may be idiopathic.4 There are only a few FDA approved drugs for the pain of PN. These drugs do not modify blood flow and, therefore, they do not correct microcirculatory defects that can, in some cases, contribute to ischemic, neuropathic pain. Some of the approved drugs have significant side effects that compromise quality of life.5 Beyond pharmacology, there has been some successin carefully selected patientsin effecting significant neuropathic pain relief with surgical intervention to decrease nerve compression.6
An alternative to drugs or surgery monochromatic infrared energy (MIRE) along with concurrent physical therapyhas been reported to provide significant pain relief to patients presenting with neuropathic pain due to either diabetes or other etiologies.7-10 This report documents the reduction in neuropathic pain achieved with use of MIRE in 493 consecutive, mostly elderly, patients treated in health care facilities from the beginning of May 2006 to the end of June 2006. These patients also detailed their use (or lack thereof) of various drugs for neuropathic pain relief prior to and during MIRE treatment.
Materials and Methods
The medical history and clinical notes related to pain were included as part of insurance claims made by a durable medical equipment (DME) supplier offering the Anodyne