Current Research on the Management of Pain

May 10, 2016

A recent study at McGill University found that light therapy can be used as a non-invasive approach in chronic pain management. Researchers were able to treat mice with light sensitive neurons in a region of the brain responsible for cerebral transmission. Once exposed to light, these neurons ended up reducing their bioelectric activity effectively shutting off the neurons and their pain producing ability. The researchers found that the pain relieving effect of the light treatment persisted even after therapy was concluded.

Results show that acute blockade of Nav 1.8+ terminals reduces pain transmission and that prolonged inhibition of peripheral input causes short-term analgesia, outlasting the optical stimulation.

(Report published by Montreal Neurological Institute, April 21, 2016)

This illustrates one of several ways in which light affects function of the central and peripheral nervous system. Unlike other approaches for controlling brain activity, such as the use of drugs, this type of therapy can be precise both in terms of timing and types of cells affected.

Using optogenetics to control pain transmission would appear to be a much more targeted approach to chronic pain relief than today’s more common methods, such as use of opiates, which cannot be localized or prescribed with the same precision as a beam of light.

Another recent study from MIT shows that optogenetics could be used to control obsessive compulsive behaviour in mice by working to turn off the hyperactive neurons responsible for the compulsive behavior patterns.

These research projects explore some of the mechanisms which are activated by appropriately designed Laser Therapy Devices and protocols utilized.


Fred Kahn, MD, FRCS(C)