The idea that lasers emit light that can reduce pain and inflammation improve healing in injured tissue, ease muscle tension and stimulate the regeneration of nerves seems to be a bit far-fetched. Sciencehowever tells us that these effects can be observed. The question is, however, to what extent , and is this based on wavelength and power?
“Wavelength and strength determine the ability of the laser to penetrate the body. When you’re in the infrared spectrum , and over 800 nanometers in wavelength laser energy can penetrate like xrays however, to reach the depth it requires a lot of power or energy.” Dr. Bruce Coren told SpineUniverse.
Two kinds or classes used in Physical Therapy
There are two types of lasers utilized in physical therapy: classes 3 and 4. “Class 3 lasers are less than 500 milliwatts (mw) in power whereas lasers in class 4 are more than 500 mw,” Dr. Coren stated. Class 3 lasers are sometimes referred to as cold lasers, and the therapy could be referred to as LLLT for low-level laser therapy. In contrast the class 4 laser therapy is often referred to as HPLT for high-power laser therapy.
“The majority of neuro-musculoskeletal conditions respond better to a higher power and a higher dosage, which is a function of power output and time,” Dr. Coren commented. “The best results are going to be obtained with the use of a laser with 30 watts of power or more. A 10-minute treatment with 30 watt laser can produce 18,000 joules, which gives an impressive pain relief, anti-inflammatory and healing effect.”
Patients usually improve after one or 2 treatments, however five or more treatments may be required to fix the issue. “The more severe and chronic the injury the more treatments are usually needed,” he added.
Properties of High-Power Laser Therapy
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Doctor. Coren talked to SpineUniverse about the advantages of Laser Therapy:
Pain Relief: “Laser decreases nerve sensitivity by decreasing bradykinin; the chemical that causes pain. It normalizes ion channel [cellular gatekeeperswhich release endorphins [the body’s natural painkiller] and Enkephalins which are linked to endorphins that create an analgesic. It also has a pain-blocking action on certain neuronal fibers.”
Anti-inflammatory/Healing: “Laser increases ATP, which is stored energy [ATP is the acronym for adenosine triphosphate]. This increased energy accelerates the process of healing within cells. Lasers can also trigger a widening of veins and arteries around the area of injury, which help to eliminate damaged cell debris and boost the amount of oxygen and nutrients. The activity of white blood cells is enhanced leading to a more rapid repair process. Additionally, certain substances that trigger inflammation are decreased, and beneficial antioxidants like superoxide dismutase are elevated.
Accelerated Cell Growth and Tissue Repair: “Photons of light from lasers penetrate deep into tissues and boost cellular reproduction as well as growth. Due to exposure to light from lasers, cells of ligaments, tendons muscles, nerves and muscles get repaired faster.”
Improvement in Vascular Activity “Laser light increases the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissues, which speed up the healing process, and heals wounds faster.”
Trigger and Acupuncture Points “Laser is especially effective in the elimination of trigger points that cause pain. It is also an effective method of stimulating acupuncture point without the discomfort associated with needling.”
The formation of fibrous tissue is reduced. “Laser therapy can reduce the formation of scar tissue after injuries to the tissue caused by repetitive motion traumas, cuts, scratches or burns, or even surgery.”
Rapider wound healing: “Laser light stimulates the collagen building blocks, which is important in the healing of wounded tissues. Collagen is the protein that is needed to replace the old tissue and to repair injuries. This is why the laser is effective on burns, open wounds and other burns.”
Stem Cell Activation “Laser boosts the amount of stem cells. This enhances healing.”
Where Laser Therapy is administered, and Conditions Cared for
Lasers with high-power power are commonly found within physical therapy facilities as well as chiropractic offices. Joint, back, or neck pain typically respond quickly to laser therapy.
“Lasers can also be very effective in treating inflammation conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, bursitis or tendonitis. They also treat capsulitis. Strains, sprains, and repetition-related motion injury all share an inflammation component and can be successfully managed with lasers,” he commented. “There is no particular condition which responds faster to laser. However, some patients be more responsive than others to similar conditions because the individual’s healing rate can differ.”
Laser therapy can be utilized as a stand-alone therapy or combined with rehabilitative exercises therapy. “Rehabilitative exercise and laser therapy can complement one another effectively,” explained Dr. Coren.
Laser Therapy Precautions
There are a few safety precautions for laser therapy. Eye protection is required to protect both patients as well as the therapist. Laser therapy shouldn’t be used on malignancies, pacemakers, spinal stimulators or over the midsection of women who are pregnant.
Laser therapy with high-power is one of the most efficient, fastest and efficient modalities available to therapists to manage inflammation and pain. “Unfortunately it isn’t insured by insurance companies, and high-power lasers are difficult to find because they are expensive. The most important thing is that results are produced through the amount of energy generated, 18,000-30,000 joules per treatment being the most effective range,” Dr. Coren concluded.