Laser Therapy ( LLLT )
A recent review of studies, results of which were published in the medical journal Lancet, concludes that low-level laser therapy is immediately effective (as little as one treatment visit) for acute neck pain and effective up to 22 weeks following multiple treatments for chronic neck pain.
Common Questions About Low Level Laser Therapy
What is Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy is the application of low levels of laser light to areas of the body that have been injured or damaged. Contrasted with high-powered lasers used in health care that cut tissue, such as surgical or hair-removal lasers, therapy lasers produce beneficial photochemical and photobiological interactions that can help relieve pain and repair injured/damaged tissue.
How do Lasers Work?
The photons of laser light penetrate through your skin are are absorbed by special components in your body’s cells called chromatophores. Just as photosynthesis creates energy for plants, the absorbs in of the photons by your cells causes increased production of cellular energy. In areas of injury or damage, this means there is more energy available to improve the rate and quality of healing. This is called biostimulation.
Because of its biostimulatory nature, laser therapy has the potential to help any scenario whereby the body’s cells are not working to their optimum potential. Studies on tissue cultures reveal a wide range of beneficial physiological effects, including increased levels of endorphins, prostaglandins and other beneficial components; reduced levels of harmful compounds including C-reactive protein and interleukin-1; pain modulation through a variety of mechanisms; and increased rate and quality of tissue healing.
For patients, that means relief from acute and chronic pain, reduced inflammation and muscle spasms, improved range of motion and restored function. Patients suffering from headaches, neck pain, carpal tunnel, low back pain, sports injuries, post-surgical pain and more have been helped with laser therapy.
How Long Does it Take to Work?
Some patients notice improvement after the very first treatment session; with others it may take a few treatments. The effect of laser therapy is cumulative, meaning that each successive treatment builds on previous ones. The main benefit to patients, as reported by laser therapy practitioners across the country, is that chiropractic care plans that include laser therapy produce faster and better quality clinical outcomes.
What Does it Feel Like to Get a Treatment?
With very low-powered therapy lasers, you feel nothing at all. Higher-powered (Class IV) therapy lasers produce a mild, soothing, warm feeling. You may notice a tingling sensation in the treatment area as blood vessels dilate, or that muscle spasms are reducing in strength and duration. Laser therapy is a painless treatment.
How Do You Know its Not Causing Cancer or Some Type of Tissue Damage?
There are two ways that laser light can damage tissue; if it is very concentrated (high power density) or if the photons are very high energy. Therapy lasers use power densities that are far below the levels that cause tissue damage. Ultraviolet light has very high-energy photons capable of ionizing molecules, but therapy lasers use visible and near-infrared light, which only cause molecular vibrations. You could argue that therapy laser light is safer than sunlight.
Are There any Side Effects ?
Some patients may experience soreness in the area of treatment, as toxins are released and blood flow is restored. World experts on laser therapy have commented that therapeutic lasers have no undesirable side effects in the hands of a reasonably qualified therapist. Laser therapy is safe, painless and inexpensive compared to alternatives.
How Do I Prepare for a Laser Treatment?
Since laser light does not pass through clothing, laser therapy must be delivered directly to the skin. Wear clothing that can easily reveal the treatment area or you may need to change into a gown at your chiropractor’s office.