COLD LASER THERAPY FOR PAIN MANAGEMENT
Cold laser therapy, also known as Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) stimulated healing by using low levels of light. This therapy uses a low-intensity laser that beams light energy on the skin that reduces pain and inflammation especially in deep areas of your body.
This therapy was developed in the 1960’s and is also referred to as soft laser therapy, or photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT). The therapy utilizes certain wavelengths of light that interact with tissue. This accelerates the process of healing by eliminating pain, swelling, reducing spasms and increasing functionality.
About 7 out of 10 people in the US suffer from one or the other pain related problem. Cold laser therapy works best to reduce acute or sudden or chronic or long-lasting pain; reduce inflammation; speed up healing of wound; promotes tissue regeneration and improves blood circulation in the knee.
Almost all conditions respond quickly to laser therapy. However, some patients might respond faster than others, but the healing rates may vary for the same condition.
WORKING OF COLD LASER THERAPY
Cold lasers are handy devices used by the doctors that are the size of a flashlight. The device is placed directly over the injured area for about 30 seconds to a few minutes. This depends on the size of the area that is being treated as well as the dosage provided by the cold laser unit.
Cold laser therapy uses light energy on your skin. The device uses low levels of energy or photons. These photons or low-levels of energy penetrate deep into the painful joint. The body tissue absorbs this light. The red and near-infrared light causes a reaction that causes chemical changes that triggers and helps damaged cells & tissues heal and re-grow. The non-thermal photons of light are emitted through the device which penetrates through different layers of skin like the dermis, epidermis, and the subcutaneous tissue or tissue fat under the skin.
Different wavelengths are used for different tissues. The superficial tissue is treated with wavelengths between 600 and 700 nanometers (nm). Whereas, for deeper penetration tissues, the treatment is done with wavelengths between 780 and 950 nm. It can take about a few doses like eight or as many doses as 30 treatments.
COLD LASER THERAPY USAGE
Cold Laser Therapy is used by Orthopedists or orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, dentists, physical therapists, naturopathic doctors, sports medicine doctors and other medical professionals in a multiplicity of ways. This is used mainly for relief from pain and inflammation and tissue repair. Below are a few examples of the therapy are:
Minor injuries and sprains – The cold laser therapy is used for treatment of minor therapy or sprains like injuries in sports and physical therapy practices. It is used to treat ligament sprains, muscle strains, tendonitis, bursitis, tennis elbow, neck pain, lower back pain, knee pain and pain associated with muscle spasms. It mainly reduces the swelling and promotes healing of the joints as well as soft tissue.
This therapy decreases nerve sensitivity by decreasing pain eliciting chemicals (known as bradykinin). The ion channels (cellular gatekeepers) are normalized and endorphins (natural pain reliever of the body) and enkephalins are released that produce an analgesic effect. This also has a pain-blocking effect on some nerve fibers.
Inflammation – As it reduces the inflammation, it is effective in treatment of inflammation which is caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other chronic autoimmune diseases. It is also used by dentists to treat inflamed tissues in the mouth as well as heal ulcers. The low-level laser increases energy which accelerates the repair process of cells. It also causes the arteries and veins to widen around the injury which removes the damaged cellular debris thereby increasing nutrients and oxygen level. White blood cell activity is also increased enhancing the repair process.
Aches and pains – It is used in treatment of chronic pain in conditions like fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Skin Rejuvenation – Cold Laser Therapy also encourages skin rejuvenation as photons of light penetrate deeply into tissue. This accelerates the cellular reproduction and growth of cells. It is used by dermatologists for skin conditions like acne and acne scars, psoriasis, burns, vitiligo, edema, or swelling of the skin and dermatitis and rashes.
Wound Healing – Cold laser therapy is beneficial in treatment of wounds as the laser stimulates the production of building blocks of collagen (essential protein required to replace old tissues as well as repair injuries), which is important in the wound healing of damaged tissues. This speeds up the healing process as well as closes wounds quickly that are difficult-to-heal, including wounds which are related to diabetes.
Acupuncture – This is used by acupuncturists for patients who are uncomfortable with needles. The low-level laser beams help in stimulating your acu-points in the similar way needles do, that too without piercing your skin.
Cold Laser therapy could potentially be used in virtually limitless ways. This increases the number of stem cell formation which enhances the healing process. It could be beneficial in treatment of conditions or diseases like traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
This therapy also increases the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue that speeds up the healing process of ligaments, cells of tendons, nerves and muscles in the body.
The cold laser therapy should not be used for patients having suspicious cancerous lesions, or carcinoma, epilepsy and thyroid. Pregnant women should avoid this therapy as it might cause an effect on the unborn baby. The direct radiation can also cause permanent damage to the eyes, thus if using at home you should be very careful.
ADVANTAGE OF COLD LASER THERAPY
Cold Laser therapy is effective in reducing pain even for long-lasting pain which in case of deep tissues. Few important benefits are:
- It is noninvasive (no surgical incision) and painless
- Does not require medication
- Does not require any preparation
- No prolonged recovery time
- Has minimal side effects
- Device is handy and readily available for use at home (with precautions)
- Reduces the need for surgery
- Acts as an alternative to analgesic
- Has high efficiency rate of about 90%
DISADVANTAGE OF COLD LASER THERAPY
There are some disadvantages of cold laser therapy:
- No full relief from pain or symptom in first sitting
- Cannot be used as only treatment
- Requires multiple sittings, usually 8 to 30 depending on severity of the condition
- People might experience old injuries getting aggravated (for a couple of days)
- Some major medical insurance companies (like Medicare and Medicaid) do not cover the expense.
The concept discovered in the 1960s that light energy through a laser reduces pain and inflammation; speeds-up healing in damaged tissues; relax muscles, and stimulate nerve regeneration seemed implausible.
However, science has proved these effects do occur effectively. Cold Laser Therapy is a widely used treatment option that effectively reduces relief from pain, especially for patients looking for treatment without surgery or medication.
The cold laser therapy involves application of a low-intensity laser light on the affected area. This increases the speed, strength, and quality of tissue getting repaired and helps to improve the blood supply in the affected area.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from pain, our expert providers at Specialty Care Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.