What is laser therapy?
Laser therapy is a form of phototherapy, which involves the use of light energy to promote tissue healing. Our Class IV laser helps us provide safe, non-invasive treatment by delivering this energy directly to damaged tissues. This can lead to a rapid reduction in pain, a decrease in inflammation and an overall improvement in healing at the cellular level. Unlike medications that may mask symptoms, laser therapy has the ability to treat the source of your pain by evoking a biochemical response within the damaged cells.
Does this actually work?
Class IV laser therapy was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain in 2004. Since then, there have been numerous peer-reviewed research studies that have examined the efficacy of this treatment. These studies have provided strong evidence that laser therapy can have a beneficial effect on injured tissues. A meta-analysis that compiled the results of 22 research articles on laser therapy found that the use of a Class IV laser creates the following reactions within the body:
- Induces photochemical responses that alter the pain threshold of nociceptors
- Nociceptors are our pain receptors. When the threshold of these cells increases, the amount of pain that we feel decreases.
- Modulates inflammation by reducing the concentration of prostaglandins
- Prostaglandins are inflammatory chemicals that are released by the body when we sustain an injury. When the concentration of prostaglandins is reduced, overall tissue inflammation decreases.
- Enhances the release of endorphins
- Endorphins are “feel-good” chemicals that help minimize discomfort.
- Increases cellular oxygenation
- Our cells require oxygen to heal and function correctly.
- Enhances local hemodynamics
- “Hemodynamics” refers to blood flow. Increased blood flow leads to faster tissue healing and helps to remove harmful substances from the area.
To summarize, the research has shown that laser therapy can help to decrease pain, reduce swelling and improve circulation, which may result in faster tissue healing.
Is laser therapy safe?
Studies have not identified any negative short-term or long-term side effects of laser therapy when it is administered correctly by a trained professional. This makes laser therapy a desirable alternative to taking medication or receiving local corticosteroid injections, both of which have known negative side effects. Our laser technician and exercise specialist, Kwame Dickson, is well-trained to administer laser therapy safely and will provide you with googles to protect your eyes during the session.
Is this a substitute for physical therapy?
Physical therapy provides important benefits, such as improved strength and flexibility, that are critical components of the rehabilitation process. Laser therapy does not serve as a substitute for physical therapy, but may provide substantial pain relief to allow you to participate fully in your therapy and speed up the overall rehabilitation process.
Who can be treated with laser therapy?
Just about anyone! The use of a Class IV laser has been shown to be beneficial for patients with both acute and chronic injuries and/or pain. It can be used to treat anything from chronic neck pain to an acute ankle sprain and can even be used post-operatively in some cases.
How can I find out if laser therapy is a viable option for me?
If you are interested in laser therapy, talk to your physical therapist, personal trainer or give us a call at (301) 948-4395. We are more than happy to answer any questions you might have!