Cold lasers are handheld devices used by the clinician and are often the size of a flashlight. The laser is placed directly over the injured area for 30 seconds to several minutes, depending on the extent of the treated area and the dose provided by the cold laser unit. During this time, the non-thermal photons of light emitted from the laser pass through the skin’s layers (the dermis, epidermis, and the subcutaneous tissue or tissue fat under the skin). This light can penetrate 2 to 5 centimeters below the skin at 90 MW and 830 nm.
Once the light energy passes through the layers of skin and reaches the target area, it is absorbed and interacts with the light sensitive elements in the cell. This process is like photosynthesis—plants absorb sunlight, which is then converted to usable energy so that the plant can grow.
When cells absorb this light energy, it initiates a series of events in the cell that is theorized to eventually result in normalizing damaged or injured tissue, a reduction in pain, inflammation, edema and an overall reduction in healing time by increasing intracellular metabolism.
Cold laser therapy can stimulate all cell types including muscle, ligament, cartilage, nerves, etc., so some conditions can be treated by cold laser therapy. Some of the conditions that may typically be treated by cold laser therapy include:
• Arthritis pain
• Back pain
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Fibromyalgia pain
• Knee pain
• Neck pain
• Plantar Fascitis
• Sprains and Strains
• Wounds acute and chronic
• Trigger Points
For years, physicians have been using cold laser therapy on patients who are seeking effective, alternative methods for pain relief. Since 1967 there have been over 2,500 clinical studies published worldwide. Many of these studies are double-blind, placebo-controlled and have demonstrated cold laser therapy to be a proven method for pain relief.
European countries are where the majority of the research and usage has occurred. Within the United States, the insurance industry along with the medical model of drug usage has slowed the introduction into mainstream medicine. There are some medical facilities embracing laser therapy, but most often a person must seek a Chiropractor for this therapy.
1 Martin R. Laser-Accelerated Inflammation/Pain Reduction and Healing. Practical Pain Management. Nov/Dec 2003 3(6):20-25.
2 Marovino T. Cold Lasers in Pain Management. Practical Pain Management. Sep/Oct 2004. 4(6):37-42.
3 Hurwitz, EL, Carragee EJ, vander Velde G, et al. Treatment of neck pain: noninvasive interventions: Results of the bone and joint decade 2000-2010 task Force on neck pain and its associated disorders. Spine 2008;33:S123-152.
3 Hopkins, JT, McLoda TA, Seegmiller JG, Baxter GD. Low-level laser therapy facilitates superficial wound healing in humans: A triple-blind, sham-controlled study. J Athl Train. 2004 Jul–Sep; 39(3): 223–229.