Bernard E. Filner, M.D., Pain Medicine, Rockville, MD
Treatment Approach

Non-invasive, Painless Technologies

Laser Therapy

Many of us, if we think of lasers at all, think about laser tag or science fiction movies. The relief many pain sufferers have experienced from laser therapy, however, is not fiction.

Low-level laser therapy is a non-invasive approach to the treatment of pain. The use of laser light at the wavelength and low-power level of the ML830® instrument has been shown to increase blood flow, reduce pain by desensitizing pain receptors, improve wound healing, and reduce inflammation. Published reports from a double-blind General Motors study showed resolution and/or significant improvement in carpal tunnel symptoms. In 2002, the FDA approved this device for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. (see FDA clearance PDF).

Dr. Filner became interested in the ML830® laser (MicroLight) after reading a Washington Post article (PDF) on its use by the New England Patriots football team before and during the 2003 Super Bowl.

This article and his subsequent research prompted Dr. Filner to contact MicroLight’s president to arrange for a demonstration. Following the meeting, which included using the laser on seven patients and himself, and further research, Dr. Filner adopted the laser’s usage for his own practice.

Over the past 5 years, Dr. Filner has used this technique with great success in de-activating trigger points, that is, in alleviating painful areas along a taut band of an affected muscle. This painless technology is gradually replacing myofascial trigger-point injections for most patients, especially those with fibromyalgia syndrome, who are particularly sensitive to pain.

Read Dr. Filner’s guest editorial article in Practical Pain Management, “Low Level Laser Therapy: A Clinician’s View” (PDF).

Microcurrent Technology

Microcurrent technology is being adopted in the United States, following years of successful use in Europe. This technology, which uses microampere levels of current, is different from the older TENS technology, which used milliampere levels of current. The microcurrent technology used by Dr. Filner is more effective than other microcurrent systems because of the feedback loop that detects areas of tissue damage and adjusts the power output as necessary to heal tissue through increased blood flow and energy transfer to cells.

This technique reduces pain from muscles, nerves, and scar tissue and can even increase saliva in patients with xerostomia (dry mouth). The instrument uses a two-part system, consisting of an Acuscope and a Myopulse®. A low-voltage microcurrent is administered through a brass probe and a conducting gel applied to the skin.

While the patient does not feel these impulses, pain and inflammation are reduced by increasing blood flow and stimulating repair at the cellular level through altering ionic channels on cell membranes.

Treatment with the microcurrent technology is risk free, painless, and effective, though it cannot be used with patients with pacemakers, during early pregnancy, or with tumors.

In addition to many of the common pain syndromes that we treat, we’ve had excellent results in treating pre- and post-operative pain related to pudendal neuralgia and vulvodynia using this technology. It’s also the only known, non-invasive method for decreasing surgical scarring.