Does “laser therapy” make you think of Star Trek? Throughout the series, doctors on starships scanned patients with devices that quickly and painlessly diagnosed their diseases and healed them. While that concept is purely science fiction, it is reflected in real cutting-edge technology. Fact IS stranger than fiction. Cold laser technology is indeed real and offers many therapeutic benefits-quickly and painlessly!
Is Laser Therapy Safe? How Does It Work?
Cold laser treatments utilize light therapy. The laser is designed to deliver different frequencies of red and near-infrared light to target different tissues of the body. They differ greatly from surgical lasers, which are used to cut or destroy tissue.
Laser therapy promotes healing of the treatment area by increasing circulation and reducing inflammation. The light therapy increases oxygen and nutrients in the localized area, allowing for increased cellular repair. Treatment also targets the mitochondria, which we all learned in the 5th grade are the “powerhouses” of the cell. Scientists call this process cellular metabolism. Increasing mitochondrial function helps accelerate the healing process.
Laser therapy is painless and safe for children as well. It has been used in Europe since the 1970s and was cleared by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005. Thousands of published studies demonstrate the clinical effectiveness of laser therapy. Among these, there are more than one hundred rigorously controlled, scientific studies that document the effectiveness of laser for many clinical conditions.
How is Cold Laser Therapy Used?
Due to the effect that laser therapy has on the body at the cellular level, it lends to the healing process of many conditions. This painless therapy helps speed up recovery and repair of treated areas.
Muscle Sprains/Strains: Laser therapy devices are commonly found in chiropractic offices for the care of athletes and weekend warriors. Cold laser treatment improves the localized inflammation associated with muscle sprains/strains and joint pain.
Bone Fracture Repair: Interestingly, light therapy targeted at the mitochondria will stimulate cellular repair and can increase the rate of recovery.
Gastrointestinal Dysfunction: Cold laser therapy helps conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and leaky gut syndrome. The laser saturates the area in oxygen which makes the environment less hospitable for bad bacteria. Therapy also decreases intestinal inflammation.
Migraines and Headaches: Migraines and headaches can have a vascular and inflammatory component. Cold laser therapy helps improve circulation and decrease inflammation.
Ear Infections: Most bacteria languish in a high-oxygen environment. Laser therapy increases the oxygen levels in the treated areas, which kills bacteria. The laser also decreases inflammation caused by the infection and increases circulation to the area.
Breastmilk Production: Yes, you read that correctly! Laser therapy can decrease localized inflammation and increase circulation, which allows better hormone saturation to the breast tissue. The laser targets the mitochondria as well and improves cellular function of the breast tissue.
Numerous studies show that laser therapy can reduce pain associated with: diabetic neuropathy, edema of the extremities, shingles, cold sores, carpal tunnel syndrome, myofascial trigger points, tennis elbow, neck pain, lower back and rib pain, ligament sprains, repetitive stress injuries, plantar fasciitis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, post-traumatic injury, fibromyalgia, and auto and work-related injuries.
Does Laser Treatment Hurt? How Long Does It Last?
There is little or no sensation during cold laser therapy, which lasts between 4 and 8 minutes. Some people may feel a mild, soothing warmth or tingling. Occasionally, areas of pain or inflammation may be sensitive for a little while before the pain subsides.
Does Cold Laser Therapy Have Any Side Effects?
Very few side effects have been reported during over twenty years of use by healthcare providers all over the world. Since a healing response is activated by treatment, some old injuries or pain syndromes may feel aggravated for a few days.
How Many Laser Therapy Treatments are Necessary and How Long Does It Take to Work?
Acute conditions may be treated daily, particularly if they are accompanied by significant pain. More chronic problems respond better when treatments are received 2 to 3 times a week, tapering to once a week or once every other week, with improvement.
For some acute conditions 4 to 6 treatments may be sufficient. Those of a more chronic nature may require 6 to 12 (or more) treatments. Conditions such as severe arthritis may require ongoing periodic care to control pain.