Have you ever heard of shingles’ painful effects that linger long after the rash has subsided? I see patients present with this quite often in my Dublin, Ireland clinic these days!
As a general rule, low-level laser therapy (LLLT) has shown to be an effective therapeutic modality for treating post-herpetic neuralgia pain, replacing pain management medicines in the future.
Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a condition that can occur in individuals who have had shingles and are left with intense burning or itching sensations. For years, traditional treatments such as medications have been the go-to option for those seeking relief from PHN; however, there may be evidence to suggest that lasers may be an effective method for managing this type of chronic pain.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what PHN is, and how it’s caused and discover how treatment through laser therapy may offer an innovative approach to treating persistent nerve pain associated with shingles.
What Is Post-herpetic Neuralgia (PHN)?
Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a type of neuropathic pain that occurs after an outbreak of herpes zoster (shingles). The pain associated with PHN usually affects the area where the shingles rash occurred, but can be felt in other parts of the body. Symptoms may include burning pain, sharp stabbing sensations, hypersensitivity to touch or cold temperatures and chronic itching. *
The exact cause of PHN is unknown; however, it occurs when the nerve cells become damaged during an episode of shingles. Treatment for PHN includes medications such as anticonvulsants, antidepressants and topical creams. Physical therapy, including massage, heat therapy and electrical stimulation may also help reduce symptoms. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding foods and drinks that may irritate the skin, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough rest and reducing stress can also help reduce the discomfort of PHN. In addition, some people find that alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and biofeedback may be beneficial in managing PHN. *
How Does Laser Treatment Help With Phn Pain Relief?
Laser treatment, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), is an alternative treatment option for post-herpetic neuralgia that is growing in popularity. It involves the use of a small handheld device to direct laser light directly onto the skin where the pain is located. There are several different types of lasers that can be used for this purpose, including red and infrared lasers. The laser energy helps reduce inflammation and stimulates nerve cells to produce natural pain relievers such as endorphins. This can help reduce sensations of burning pain and provide relief from PHN symptoms.
It is important to note that there have not been any large-scale studies conducted on the effectiveness of LLLT for treating PHN. However, some smaller studies have shown that it may be beneficial in reducing pain levels and improving the quality of life for those with PHN. It is recommended to speak with a healthcare professional before starting laser therapy to ensure it is a safe and suitable option.
It is important to note that while laser treatment may provide relief from PHN symptoms, it should not replace traditional treatments such as medications or physical therapy. In addition, the effects of LLLT on PHN can vary among individuals; therefore, it is always best to consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any new form of treatment.
What Are Other Treatment Options?
In addition to laser treatment, there are other forms of treatment available for managing post-herpetic neuralgia. Medications such as anticonvulsants, antidepressants and topical creams can help reduce pain and other symptoms. Physical therapy, such as massage, heat therapy or electrical stimulation may also provide relief from PHN. Lifestyle changes including avoiding certain foods and drinks that can irritate the skin, maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough rest are also important in reducing pain levels. Alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture and biofeedback can also be beneficial in managing PHN. It is recommended to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatments for post-herpetic neuralgia in order to ensure they are safe and suitable options.
What Are the Side Effects of Laser Treatment for PHN Pain Relief?
The most common side effects associated with laser treatment are minor and generally temporary. These may include a feeling of warmth or tingling in the area being treated, as well as redness and swelling around the site. More serious side effects such as skin damage or burns are rare. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new form of treatment in order to ensure it is safe and suitable for you. *
In conclusion, laser treatment can be an effective way to reduce post-herpetic neuralgia pain levels, however, it should not replace traditional treatments such as medications or physical therapy. It is always important to consult with a healthcare practitioner before beginning any new form of treatment in order to ensure it is safe.
How Long Does the Laser Treatment Take To Work for Phn Pain Relief?
The effects of laser treatment may vary depending on the individual, however, the relief from PHN symptoms usually begins gradually within a few days after the first session. The full effects typically take 4-6 weeks to be realized. It is important to talk to your healthcare practitioner about how often treatments are needed in order to minimize pain and maximize long-term results. *
Most importantly, it is important that you discuss any questions or concerns with your healthcare practitioner before undergoing laser treatment for post-herpetic neuralgia as well as regularly during the course of your treatment. This will help ensure that you are getting the best care possible and can experience optimal levels of pain relief from your treatments.
Is There Any Research That Supports the Use of Lasers for Phn Pain Relief Treatments?
Yes, there is research that supports the use of lasers for PHN pain relief treatments. Studies have shown that low-level laser therapy (LLLT) can be an effective way to reduce post-herpetic neuralgia symptoms and improve the quality of life for those suffering from this condition. It has been found to provide relief from pain, as well as skin sensitivity, itching and burning sensations. Additionally, LLLT has been found to help reduce inflammation associated with PHN and promote faster healing of lesions caused by the virus. *
It is important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new form of treatment in order to ensure it is safe and suitable for you. With proper guidance, laser treatment can help improve the quality of life for those suffering from PHN.
- Knapp, D.J., 2013. Postherpetic neuralgia: case study of class 4 laser therapy intervention. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 29(10), pp.e6-e9.
- Baxter, G.D., Bell, A.J., Allen, J.M. and Ravey, J., 1991. Low level laser therapy: Current clinical practice in Northern Ireland. Physiotherapy, 77(3), pp.171-178.
- Matsumura, C., Ishikawa, F., Imai, M. and Kemmotsu, O., 1993. Useful effect of application of helium-neon LLLT on an early stage case of herpes zoster: a case report. Laser Therapy, 5(1), pp.43-46.
- Mukhtar, R., Fazal, M.U., Saleem, M.A. and Saleem, S., 2020. Role of low-level laser therapy in post-herpetic neuralgia: a pilot study. Lasers in Medical Science, 35, pp.1759-1764.