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.
The photons of laser light penetrate through your skin and are absorbed by special components in your body’s cells called chormophores. Just as photosynthesis creates energy for plants, the absorption 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.
What is the history of laser therapy?
The use of light as a healing modality has been recorded as early as 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. Albert Einstein wrote a theory about lasers in 1917, and the laser was invented in 1960. Laser light is special because it is monochromatic (one color), coherent (all waves are in phase with each other), and can be collimated (held to a small spot size at a great distance). Dr. Endre Mester was the first to observe the positive effects of laser when hair grew more quickly on shaved mice that were exposed to low levels of laser light.
How long have lasers been used by health care providers?
Therapy lasers have been used in Europe since Dr. Mester’s discovery in 1967. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave market clearance to the first therapy laser in 2002. Since then, progressive chiropractors, osteopaths, medical doctors and other have been offering laser therapy to their patients in increasing numbers.
How do lasers work?
The photons of laser light penetrate through your skin and are absorbed by special components in your body’s cells called chromophores. Just as photosynthesis creates energy for plants, the absorption 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.
OK, but what does that all mean in English?
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 it not causing cancer or other 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 therapy 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.
How can I get more information?
Ask your doctor! A steadily growing number of health care practitioners are offering laser therapy to their patients. If your doctor does not offer laser therapy and believes it could help your condition, they should be able to refer you to a doctor who does.
As a result of a fall, my left thumb had been dislocated and a bone spur developed. Even after the thumb was realigned, it continued to be painful. I could not move it enough to play my harp without significant pain. Since I am a Certified Music Practitioner, playing at bedside for the critically ill and dying, I could no longer effectively do my job.
After assessing my problem, Dr. Simpson suggested that laser therapy might be helpful.
I now have full use of my left hand and am gradually working to strengthen it. I have resumed playing healing music on my harp at bedside.
I injured my knee doing yard work. The pain kept me from walking without a limp. I came for laser treatment and after only 3 treatments saw significant improvement and am now virtually pain free.
I have had a recurring knee injury since 1998. While physical therapy and other exercises helped periodically, there was always lingering pain. I am a dance teacher and live a very active lifestyle. Living with chronic knee pain had just become an inconvenient and painful thing I thought I would have to deal with forever.
I had been coming to Simpson Chiropractic Center for about a year when Dr. Simpson suggested laser therapy for my knee. I had never used laser therapy, but at that point I would have tried anything short of surgery.
I can only call the result miraculous. Within the first two days of my first session I could feel the pain dulling until it left altogether. I would absolutely recommend laser therapy for chronic or lasting pain.
I don’t wake up sore anymore. I can start my day immediately without having to wait for my knee to warm-up!
I was having numbness in my left leg around and below my knee. The skin would tingle and feel different then the skin on the rest of my leg and body. Dr. Simpson talked to me about laser treatment, and I decided to try it out. After one treatment, I could tell my leg and skin felt more normal. After the second treatment over the next few days, the feeling in my leg went back to normal. At this point (about 8 months later), the feeling in my leg is normal. Chiropractic adjustments also have helped my back and the muscles around my back so that they don’t limit my activities like they used to.
During the Fall of 2009, I was diagnosed with a lateral meniscus tear to the left knee. After numerous painful shots and months of physical therapy I noticed that I still had some pain and stiffness remaining in the knee. After beginning chiropractic care, Dr. Simpson recommended that I give laser therapy a try on my knee. I received four laser treatments and noticed after one session I was able to bend my knee without any pain at all. It has been very exciting to experience this form of treatment which was painless and to know how well laser therapy has worked for me.
Having a long history of knee pain that resulted from basketball injuries, falls, and wear related to aging, I was a prime candidate for knee replacement surgery. That is when I discovered and read the laser therapy literature available in Dr. Simpson’s office and began to ask a lot of questions. The more I found out the more I became very encouraged and wanted to give laser therapy a try.
In January of 2010 I had on differing days 5 treatments on my right knee which was the most painful knee. The laser treatments were absolutely painless and took about 20 to 30 minutes. I often experienced soothing warmth during treatments in my knee. The pain was considerably minimized, and days later I realized that for the first time in years my knee was pain free.
Since my first experience of laser therapy in January on my right knee, I have been pain free and look forward to having my other knee treated in time. With this first success, it is without a doubt that I recommend laser therapy to anyone experiencing chronic and acute pain. I have found this to be an amazing, safe and effective therapy that is well worth the investment to anyone wanting to improve the quality of their life.
My name is Shirley Moon. I have been coming to Dr. Simpson for about two years. I was having problems with my back at the time of my visit to his office. I can truly say my back is better. I still get adjusted every three weeks to maintain the progress I have made.
About six months ago I was going down some stairs and my knee felt like it was going to come out of place. I jerked it back and from then on my knee swelled and hurt very bad. I then went to see an orthopedic doctor who drew fluid from my knee. It was very painful to have that done and it did help some but I still could not bend my leg without it hurting.
Dr. Simpson told me about Laser treatment and asked if I would like to try it. On October 19th, 2009 I had my first treatment; I could tell it helped my knee tremendously. I cleaned carpet the very next day! It was still hurting some but I was so amazed at how much better it felt. As of this day November 3rd, 2009 I have had four Laser treatments. I will go back on the 5th of November for my final treatment. I truly recommend the Laser to anyone that wants to enjoy life and to be more active. It has saved me a lot of money and took away a lot of pain.
Thank you Dr. Simpson for introducing me to the Laser and for all you have done for me over these past two years.