Cold Laser Therapy: Does it Really Work?
For those who have never heard of low-level laser therapy (LLLT), also known as cold laser therapy, it is a treatment that entails using wavelengths of light to interact with tissues in the body to facilitate and also accelerate healing. Low-level laser therapy is an ideal treatment for sprains and minor injuries, which explains why it has been embraced by numerous sports medicine, physical therapy practices, and pain doctors. That said, this form of therapy is ideal for those who are struggling with neck, lower back, or knee pain. It is also an effective way to treat ligament and muscle strains, tendonitis, tennis elbow, and bursitis. Although cold laser therapy has been used clinically in Eastern Europe and throughout Asia for more than 30 years, it only recently started gaining attention in America.
What you Should Know About Cold Laser Therapy
If you’re struggling with strains or minor injuries and curious about how low-level laser therapy works, you’re encouraged to continue reading. During low-level laser therapy treatments, a physician, physical therapist, or occupational therapist will aim various wavelengths of low-level light at specific areas of the body that is causing pain or discomfort. That said, treatments involving superficial tissue will typically involve wavelengths measuring between 600 and 700 nanometers. Conversely, treatments that require deep tissue penetration will often involve wavelengths measuring somewhere between 780 and 950 nanometers.
When the red, infrared-like light used during cold laser therapy is absorbed by the body, it triggers a series of events that ultimately increases cellular metabolism, which, in turn, leads to a reduction in pain and inflammation. It is also worth noting that these treatments only take 5 to 10 minutes to complete in most cases. As far as how long it will take to notice relief from pain symptoms after undergoing low-level laser therapy, everyone responds differently, and in many cases, some individuals may need to undergo multiple sessions. On average, however, most can expect long-lasting relief after just 1 or 2 sessions.
Is Low-Level Laser Therapy Safe?
Along with being completely painless, low-level laser therapy is not only safe but also approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to treat a wide range of health problems. Further, the infrared-like light used during these treatments is markedly different than that of other laser therapies, such as carbon dioxide, erbium, and pulsed-dye laser therapies, for example, all of which involve heating up the superficial and deep tissue being treated. In contrast, low-level laser therapy allows the body to maintain its natural temperature as it aids in speeding up healing and providing relief from inflammation and pain.
Additional Health Problems that can be Treated with Low-Level Laser Therapy
Along with being used to treat sprains and minor injuries, low-level laser therapy is also an effective treatment modality for those who may be struggling with any of the following health problems:
- Problem skin – Low-level laser therapy is a great way to improve skin health and appearance in that they can help resolve minor acne and even chronic skin problems, including severe burns, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, edema, and psoriasis. It is also worth noting that low-level therapy is an effective treatment for individuals, namely those with diabetes, struggling with difficult-to-treat wounds.
- Inflammation – Not surprisingly, inflammation can play a significant role when it comes to most types of pain. For this reason, many pain management clinics will use low-level laser therapy to treat rheumatoid arthritis and certain autoimmune diseases, which are both notorious for triggering inflammation that inevitably gives way to pain. Additionally, many dentists use low-level laser therapy as a way to reduce inflammation in a patient’s oral cavity and also heal ulcerations. On a side note, there is also evidence suggesting that low-level laser therapy can provide relief from the pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome as well as fibromyalgia.
The Future of Love-Level Laser Therapy
Currently, scientists and researchers are looking into how low-level laser therapy can help with other health issues. To that point, available data shows that low-level laser therapy is considered just as effective as traditional acupuncture when it comes to relieving pain, which may be good news for those who have an aversion to being pricked with needles. Beyond that, research is still being conducted to determine whether or not low-level laser therapy is a viable treatment for the following health conditions:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
All in all, low-level therapy has already been proven effective in the treatment of numerous health problems, especially those that trigger pain and inflammation. And as far as the potential for new applications, the future looks quite promising for these non-invasive treatments.
Are There any Downsides to Undergoing Low-Level Laser Therapy Treatments?
While there are many benefits associated with low-level laser therapy, there are also a few downsides worth noting. First and foremost, many individuals do not experience complete pain relief after an initial low-level laser therapy treatment. Also, depending on the nature of the health problem, it can take as many as 30 sessions for some individuals to achieve significant pain relief. What’s more, healing time and pain relief will often be slower for those who turn to low-level laser therapy to treat older injuries. Lastly, it is worth noting that these treatments, while generally effective, are not covered by Medicare. As far as private health insurance providers are concerned, some of them will cover a portion of the patient’s treatment cost while others will not provide coverage at all.
In summation, low-level laser therapy is an effective and painless way to resolve a variety of health problems. However, it may not be right for everyone, particularly those with either older or serious injuries. That said, those who are considering low-level laser therapy are encouraged to speak with a sports medicine or pain doctor to confirm that such treatments are right for them.
Contact us today to see if cold laser therapy is right for you!