At PrimeHealth, we consider all healing & treatment options for each patient. The needs of each patient vary greatly, and so does their treatment plan. We create the best course of action for you and build this into your Personalized Wellness Plan. Depending on your unique needs, your plan may include cold laser therapy.
If you’re looking for an alternative approach to pain relief and tissue repair, the answer may be cold laser therapy. For over 50 years, medical professionals have been using cold laser therapy (AKA Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)) to treat a surprisingly wide range of ailments. This includes acne, burns, and rashes to fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel.
LLLT reduces swelling, treats slow-healing wounds (like those related to diabetes), promotes soft tissue and joint repair, and relieves pain. Sports medicine practitioners use LLLT to treat tendonitis, bursitis, tennis elbow, and muscle strains. Physical therapy offices use it to help with neck pain, knee pain, or low back pain. Acupuncturists sometimes use LLT in place of needles as the beams can stimulate acupoints without piercing the skin.
How Does Cold Laser Therapy (LLLT) Work?
LLLT was invented in the 1960s by Hungarian physician Endre Mester, and clinical studies of LLLT began in 1967. Today, over 2,500 studies have been published, including double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. Overall, study results indicate LLLT is effective for pain relief.
During an LLLT treatment, a compact, handheld laser is placed over the injured area for a short period of time. Duration of treatment depends upon the intensity of the laser and type of injury.
During treatment, non-thermal photons of light pass through the skin and penetrate 2 to 5 centimeters below the surface. When the targeted cells absorb this energy, a physiological reaction occurs that encourages the cells to heal, repair and normalize damaged tissue. Reduced pain and inflammation, and faster healing times can result.
The Downsides of LLLT
While there are far fewer dangers of cold laser therapy than the heated lasers used for surgery and ablations, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. First, never look directly at the laser. Second, never use LLLT around the thyroid area. Third, cold lasers may cause irritation if applied to the same area for too long or too often. Of course, it’s best to proceed under the care of a health professional.
Further, LLLT isn’t an overnight cure-all and it can take up to a month to see results. As with all therapies, results vary by person.
Finally, not all insurance companies will cover the cost of LLLT. It’s important to do your due diligence and to give your insurance carrier a call before diving in.
Is Cold Laser Therapy or PEMF Better for my injury?
While cold laser therapy offers an alternative way to treat pain, another option to consider is PEMF, or pulsating electromagnetic fields. Whereas cold laser therapy certainly has its place in treating issues close to the skin’s surface, PEMF is more broadly applicable―you can even receive a whole-body session. PEMF can also boost the effects of LLLT when used pre- or post-session. PEMF offers a deeper healing result and may even be a surgical alternative in some cases. For more information, check out our next post, later this month, about PEMF.