Have you heard the buzz about using cold lasers for healing countless ailments? Cold lasers are being used by Doctors, Dentists, Acupuncturists, DO’s, Oral Surgeons, Veterinarians, Chiropractors and the list goes on. Treatment with cold laser therapy is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing segments of alternative medicine and complimentary medicine.
People and practitioners are constantly reporting great results from cold lasers for treatment of countless conditions including: carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), repetitive stress disorders, back, neck and shoulder conditions, acute and chronic pain, arthritis, inflammation, fibromyalgia, skin conditions, weight loss, smoking cessation and more.
The first cold lasers were used over 35 years ago. In Europe, Asia and Canada cold lasers have been used routinely for about 20 years and yet in America they are relatively new to mainstream medicine. Why is this? Just 3 short years ago the United States FDA started to give clearance to cold lasers for use in specific areas. For example the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), neck and shoulder pain, and other pain treatment applications.
Additional names that are often used interchangeably with cold laser are: low level laser (LLT), photobiostimulation laser, photobiomodulation laser , biostimulating laser, bioregulating laser, soliton laser and soft laser. Until a consensus is reached, the two most important names to remember are cold laser and low level laser, which is often used interchangeably with low level laser therapy (LLLT).
Why is it called a cold laser? A laser that utilizes a diode that is 500 mW or less is called a cold laser because it does not produce enough thermal output to heat the tissue being treated. A variety of cold lasers are available on the market with different power outputs and different wavelengths. Common diode power outputs include: 5 mW, 30 mW, 50 mW, 100 mW, 200 mW and 500 mW. The higher the power output, generally the shorter the treatment.
Is there a difference between a laser and an LED? Yes, it is an important difference, which comes down to coherence and depth of penetration. A cold laser uses coherent, polarized light that is highly focused and columnated, allowing it to travel in a straight line for long distances or to penetrate into the deeper layers of the body. The light from LED’s is monochromatic, non coherent light, which is useful for treatment of superficial tissues such as wounds and skin conditions. In comparative studies, lasers have been shown to be more effective and faster working. Some of the most effective and versatile lasers on the market utilize both laser and LED light output.
How Does Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) Work?
According To Low Level Laser Therapy by Jan Turner & Lars Hode (Prima Books), low level laser therapy:
• Reduces pain by causing the production of natural pain killer endorphins.
• Reduces inflammation by suppressing inflammatory enzymes that create swelling, redness, pain, and heat and enhances the release of anti-inflammatory enzymes.
• Enhances lymphatic drainage, which increases circulation and speeds healing.
• Stimulates the release of helpful healing enzymes.
• Releases tight muscles (both smooth and striated) that create chronic pain, joint problems, and decreased mobility.
• Speeds bone repair by stimulating fibroblastic and osteoblastic proliferation.
• LLLT in the correct frequency appears to be antiviral, antifungal, and antiherpetic.
Laser irradiation of tissue cultures has shown that units of light energy (photons)
are absorbed by enzymes, which react to light within the cell. Visible light is absorbed within the mitochondria and the infrared light is absorbed at the cell membrane. In a mammalian cell, this results in a change in membrane permeability, increased ATP levels and increased DNA production. The photons picked up by the cell membrane result in improved membrane stability and increased activity of the ATP dependent Na/K pump. Because cell metabolism is influenced by Na/K movement across the membrane, increasing the gradient will affect the flow of ions and hence the overall metabolism of the cell.
On a tissue level, it has been shown that irradiation by laser light results in increased collagen and epithelial production and production of new capillaries and an increase in density of the capillary bed. Reduction of pain and inflammation results from this treatment, as does the stimulation of nerve regeneration, muscle relaxation and atonicity (lack of muscle tone). There is also an indication that laser light therapy helps to increase the immune system response.
[Low Level Laser Therapy Provides New Treatment Possibilities, Dr. Melyni Worth, Ph.D, World Equine Veterinary Review, Vol. 3, No.3, 1998]
Osmosis (transfer) of essential nutrients cannot occur across the cellular
memrane of a de-polarized (sick) cell. Consequently, delayed healing,
chronic disease, scars, fatigue, and accelerated aging is observed! LLLT
reenergizes (repolarizes) injured cell membranes and increases the mitochondria
energy by 150%, which speeds and improves the healing process! Red
light aids in the production of ATP in cells, which increases cellular
health and energy. The radiation (energy) in normal cells stimulates adjacent
cells to divide in the normal process of regeneration and healing. Laser
light stimulates abnormal tissue to activate normal inter-cellular radiation,
thus stimulating the normal healing process to start again. The photons
produced by laser light normalize tissue by activating enzymes within
cells. One activated, enzymes within a cell trigger a chemical reaction
in which more enzymes are activated in a domino-type effect. Low Level
Laser Therapy has no effect on normal tissue. Photons will only be absorbed
by cells that need them.
Holistic Bird Newsletter,
Is cold laser therapy scientifically well documented? LLLT will naturally not work on anything, however due to the fact that it treats at a cellular level, it is successful at treating an astounding level of conditions. Some research has failed to demonstrate effect in several indications, however proper treatment is dependant upon numerous factors including dosage, diagnosis, frequency of treatment and treatment technique. More than 2500 research reports are published and more than 100 double-blind positive studies confirm the clinical effect of cold laser therapy. Over 90% of the 370 studies revealed in the limited LLLT dental literature alone verify the clinical value of cold laser therapy.
© 2006 Kalon Prensky All rights reserved