Low level laser therapy (LLLT) or “cold laser” therapy is a treatment that makes use of specific wavelengths of light to interact with the tissue. Known to help accelerate the healing process, low level laser therapy is used on patients suffering from a variety of chronic and acute conditions. It’s also known to help eliminate swelling and pain, increase functionality, and reduce spasms.
Cold lasers are devices which produce very specific frequencies and intensities of light waves which interact with our cells. Typically, laser applicators will range to cover areas from the size of tip of your 5th digit to about the size of a fist. The laser is directly placed over the treatment area for around 30 seconds, up to several minutes, depending on the dose provided by the unit and the area being treated.
During the procedure, the device emits non-thermal protons of light which pass through the skin layers. The light has the capability to penetrate 2 to 5 centimetres below the skin. Treatment wavelengths between 600-1050nm are typically used, and at a power of up to 1,500mW in low-level laser systems.
As soon as the light energy passes through the skin and reaches the area being targeted, it absorbs and interacts with the cell’s light sensitive elements. This process is analogous to the photosynthesis process in plants—sunlight absorbed by the plants is converted into usable energy that can help them grow.
In a similar manner, as soon as the cells absorb the light energy, a series of events in the cell is initiated. While research on cold laser therapy is still ongoing, studies over the past two decades have found responses including reduction of inflammation and edema (swelling), reduced pain, wound healing and eventual normalising of the injured or damaged tissue.
In addition, the therapy is also known to increase intracellular metabolism by up regulation of ATP synthesis and results in a significant reduction in healing time.
Safe, non-invasive, and highly effective, low level laser therapy has been known to be particularly helpful in the treatment of persistent, stubborn, and difficult to treat conditions such as chronic neck and back pain, plantar fasciitis, arthritis, and other muscle and joint pains.
Cold laser treatments are also beneficial for use with acute injuries due to their ability to reduce the inflammatory response.
Low level laser therapy can stimulate all cell types including ligament, cartilage, muscle, nerves, etc. so it can be used to treat a number of conditions. Some of the conditions that we typically treat using low level laser therapy include:
Cold laser therapy has been known to provide exceptional therapeutic benefits including:
Rapid cellular repair. Laser light has been known to accelerate healing through increased cellular energy production.
Reduced formation of fibrous tissue. Laser light significantly reduces scar tissue formation, resulting in more complete healing. It also helps warrant a minimal chance for weakness and re-injury.
Anti-inflammatory action. Laser light has been known to help reduce swelling, leading to less stiffness, decreased pain, and faster return of normal muscle and joint function.
Faster healing of wounds. Laser light can help accelerate collagen synthesis in damaged tissues and stimulate fibroblast development. Thus patients post-surgery or post-injury may benefit from low level laser therapy as part of their recovery.
Stimulates nerve function. Laser light can help speed up the nerve cell processes, resulting to decreased numbness and pain for those with nerve-related conditions.
In order to determine if this technology is right for you, please schedule a consultation with one of our highly trained doctors of chiropractic in order to better assess your condition.
In many cases, a customised treatment plan involving specific manual therapies, advanced therapeutic technologies like LLLT or others, and specific rehabilitation exercises will give our patients the best chance of feeling better and maintaining long-term recovery.
Author: Dr. Michael Bryant