Cold Laser Therapy
What is Cold Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy - also called “cold laser” or Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) - is a technology that has been proven to be remarkably safe, painless and effective in treating both acute injuries and chronic pain of various kinds. It has been shown to be an extremely useful addition to our treatment at our chiropractic centers.
It has been particularly helpful in stubborn, persistent, and difficult-to-treat conditions, including chronic back pain and neck pain, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and other joint and muscle pains.
The laser gives us the ability to provide you with an improved level of safe, non-invasive, drug-free pain relief, and accelerated healing of injuries. The treatment involves the application of red and near infra-red light to injuries. Laser and LED beams are used to stimulate the cells in the body that repair tissue, reduce inflammation, and reduce pain. It is a highly effective treatment for acute soft tissue injuries, chronic pain syndromes, and slow healing wounds.
Therapeutic Benefits of Laser Therapy
- Anti-Inflammatory Action: Laser light reduces swelling, leading to decreased pain, less stiffness, and a faster return to normal joint and muscle function.
- Rapid Cell Repair: Laser light accelerates cellular reproduction and healing
- Faster Wound Healing: Laser light stimulates fibroblast development and accelerates collagen synthesis in damaged tissue.
- Reduced Fibrous Tissue Formation: Laser light reduces the formation of scar tissue, leading to more complete healing, with less chance of weakness and re-injury later.
- Increased Vascular Activity: Laser light increases blood flow to the injured area.
- Stimulated Nerve Function: Laser light speeds nerve cell processes, which may decrease pain and numbness associated with nerve-related conditions.
Conditions Treated Using Laser Therapy
- Acute soft tissue injuries e.g. sprains/strains
- Back and neck pain
- Chronic pain syndromes e.g. RSI, frozen shoulder, chronic low back pain
- Fractures and non-union fractures
- Nerve pain (Neuropathic pain) e.g. from disc injuries
- Ulcers e.g. diabetic ulcers
- Postoperative care: Postoperative pain, tendon repair, post-mastectomy lymphoedema, infected wounds
Advantages of Low-Level Laser Therapy Over Medical Treatment
- Safe and quick results. Can be used immediately after injury, over pins, plates and bony prominences.
- Drug-free pain relief without unwanted side-effects. It doesn’t have side effects like some anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers.
Clinical Effects of Low-Level Laser Therapy
- Reduces swelling and inflammation: Stimulates lymphatic drainage to reduce swelling.
- Reduces healing time: Stimulates the cells around the injury to increase the speed, quality and strength of tissue repair.
- Pain relief: Inhibits the nerves related to the site of pain.
How does Laser Therapy work?
Therapeutic lasers work by supplying energy to the body in the form of photons of light. The tissues and cells then absorb this energy, where it is used to accelerate the normal rate of tissue healing. The red and near infrared light (600nm – 1000nm) commonly used in LLLT can be produced by laser or high intensity LED. The intensity of LLLT laser and LEDs is not high like a surgical laser and there is no heating effect.
The effects of LLLT are photochemical, like photosynthesis in plants. The laser can affect cell membrane permeability and aid the production of ATP (the fuel for our cells) thereby providing the cell with more energy, which in turn means the cell is in optimum condition to play its part in a natural healing process.
Safety of Low-Level Laser Therapy
Low-level laser therapy is not harmful. Lasers used for tissue stimulation have insufficient strength to damage cells. Thirty years of clinical studies and clinical use have shown only mild, occasional adverse effects.
There are normally no adverse effects from LLLT, however, you may occasionally experience mild ache after treatment. This is due to a re-stimulation of the inflammatory phase and should settle down after 24 – 48 hours.
Frequency of Treatments
While some patients get immediate results, others require 6-10 treatments before seeing a lasting effect. Less severe or acute injuries will require fewer treatments than chronic or severe conditions. The treatment frequency recommendation is 1-2 times/week for 2-4 weeks, then 1 time/week for 2-6 weeks. This clearly will vary from one person to the next depending on the type of injury, the length of time it has been present, and how well you heal.
The use of a laser will help your injury heal quicker, it will reduce the pain and get you back to normal activities faster. You can achieve this without any of the side effects that you often get from taking painkillers.
The Advantages Of Low-Lever Laser Therapy:
- It is safe
- Easily applied
- Highly effective
- No negative side effects.
The “condition” most often treated with low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is pain. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared low-level lasers, for marketing as devices that provide temporary relief of pain.
Of course, pain can be caused by any number of injuries or diseases. Plantar fasciitis is painful and so is fibromyalgia — both types of pain are treated successfully with LLLT. Separate studies have shown that non-specific neck and low-back-pain can be effectively treated with LLLT.2,3 Additionally, temporary conditions such as sprains respond well to LLLT, as do chronic conditions like arthritis.
Low-level lasers are also called cold lasers, soft lasers, biostimulation lasers, low-intensity lasers, etc.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is the use of a low-powered laser that emits specific wavelengths of light in the visible red and/or far-infrared range for therapeutic purposes.
Low-level laser clinics are becoming more widespread in North America. These clinics treat musculoskeletal injuries/conditions (acute and chronic) alone or in conjunction with other treatments. LLLT is also commonly used in wound healing.
Knee injuries and conditions treated by low-level laser include tendonitis, bursitis, meniscus tears, runners knee/chondromalacia patella, knee joint effusion, iliotibial band syndrome, osgood schlatters disease, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Low-level lasers use very low power and no heating of or damage to the tissue occurs. Low-level laser treatment increases cell metabolism. Low-level lasers emit light in the red and infrared range. Red and infrared light penetrates deeply into human tissue, where the light energy is absorbed and turned into biochemical energy. By increasing cellular energy in the treated area, low-level laser therapy is believed to speed healing and reduce inflammation and pain. There are no known side effects.
Laser devices emit small concentrated beams of light. Laser light is parallel (wavelengths travel in the same direction), coherent (highs and low point of light wave are lined up) and monochromatic (one or more specific wavelengths of light). In contrast, sunlight and common light bulbs emits incoherent light in almost all directions.
Cold Laser therapy, whether using low intensity radiation in the visible or near-infrared region can be beneficial in a number of clinical situations, from pain remission to wound healing. Unfortunately, the absence of this type of phototherapy from the mainstream of medicine makes it unavailable to patients who could benefit from it.
- Soft tissue injuries, including sprains and strains, tendonitis and haematomas
- Joint conditions, including arthritis, tenosynovitis and capsulitis
- Chronic pain, including Trigeminal neuralgia and chronic neck and back pain
- Wound management, including skin ulcers, pressure sores and burns