What is Light Laser Therapy?
Laser Therapy, or “photobiomodulation”, is the use of specific wavelengths of light (red and near-infrared) to create therapeutic effects. These effects include improved healing time, pain reduction, increased circulation and decreased swelling. Laser therapy has been widely utilized in Europe by physical therapists, nurses and doctors as far back as the 1970’s. Now, after FDA clearance in 2002, Laser therapy is being used extensively in the United States.
What are the benefits of Light Laser Therapy?
Laser Therapy is proven to biostimulate tissue repair and growth. The Laser accelerates wound healing and decreases inflammation, pain, and scar tissue formation. Most professional sport teams have a Class IV laser available to aid in recovery of injuries for the athletes. In the management of chronic pain, Class IV Laser Therapy can provide dramatic results, is non-addictive and virtually free of side effects so essentially, it can’t hurt!
How many therapies can make such a claim?
Laser therapy adds energy to living systems. While we are able to explain many of its molecular and biochemical effects, it also adds energy at atomic and subatomic levels.
Has effectiveness been demonstrated scientifically?
Yes. There are thousands of published studies demonstrating the clinical effectiveness of Laser Therapy. Among these, there are more than one hundred rigorously controlled, scientific studies that document the effectiveness of laser for many clinical conditions.
What are the cellular Effects of Light Laser Therapy?
During Laser Therapy the infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level and metabolic activity increases within the cell, improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This initiates the production of cellular energy (ATP) that leads to a cascade of beneficial effects, increasing cellular function and health.
Each painless laser treatment increases circulation, drawing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain. As the injured area returns to normal, function is restored and pain is relieved.
What’s different about the Class IV (4) Laser vs. other LASER’s that are out there?
Our Class IV (4) Laser was handmade in Germany with the highest quality of craftsmanship. It deploys a wavelength of 980nm. Best of all, our Class IV has the capability of providing up to 60W allowing the laser to penetrate up to 15cm below skin level. Rarely will we use the full 60W unless for more specific injuries like a bone bruise. Most sessions fluctuate between 15-45W depending on the condition and site of the injured area.
Does it hurt? What does a treatment feel like?
You really don’t feel much. There will be little or no sensation during treatment. Occasionally one feels a mild, soothing warmth or tingling. Areas of pain or inflammation may be sensitive briefly before pain reduction.
Are there any side effects or associated risks?
During more than twenty years of use by healthcare providers all over the world, very few side effects have ever been reported. Occasionally some old injuries or pain syndromes may feel aggravated for a few days, as the healing response is more active after treatment. Increased pain may be due to an increase in localized blood flow, increased vascular activity, increased cellular activity, or a number of other effects.
During more than forty years of use of therapeutic lasers all over the world, very few side effects have ever been reported. Contrasted with the side effects from prescription drugs or surgery, laser therapy has an amazingly safe track record.
How long does each treatment take?
Thanks to the higher power output of our Class IV Therapy, treatment times are shortened, so you can get on with your busy life. Most treatments take only a few minutes. The typical treatment is 3 to 9 minutes, depending on the size of the area being treated.
How often should a patient be treated?
Acute conditions may be treated daily, particularly if they are accompanied by significant pain. More chronic problems respond better when treatments are received 2 to 3 times a week, tapering to once a week or once every other week, with improvement.
How many treatments does it take?
This depends on the nature of the condition being treated. For some acute conditions, 5 to 10 treatments may be sufficient. Those of a more chronic nature may require 10 to 15 (or more) treatments. Conditions such as severe arthritis may require ongoing periodic care to control pain.
Many patients note improvement in their condition in just one or two sessions. These sessions may be scheduled at two to three times per week for a number of weeks and then one to two times a week until the condition is under control. For more chronic conditions, one to two times a week is usually used for a longer period of time.
How long before the results are felt?
You may feel improvement in your condition (usually pain reduction) after the very first treatment. Sometimes you will not feel improvements for a number of treatments. This does not mean that nothing is happening. Each treatment is cumulative and results are often felt after 3 or 4 sessions.
Can it be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment?
Yes! Laser Therapy is often used with other forms of therapy, including physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, massage, soft tissue mobilization, electrotherapy and even following surgery. Other healing modalities are complementary and can be used with laser to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
Can the Class IV Laser help with chronic pain?
Yes! Chronic pain can come from many conditions such as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Other lasers may not be able to penetrate deep enough to even target the injured, painful joint but our laser provides a penetration of up to 15cm below the skin to stimulate the healing process.
What is the history of Light Laser Therapy technology?
The effects of red light on cellular function have been known since 1880 however the clinical benefits were only discovered by accident during laser safety tests in 1967. The first low-power lasers suitable
for treating pain became available commercially in the late 1970’s and ever since then, laser therapy has been widely utilized in Europe by physical therapists, nurses and doctors. Now, after FDA approval in 2001, laser therapy is quickly gaining popularity in the USA.
What does laser therapy do anyway?
Physiological effects of Laser Therapy:
- Decreased pain levels
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased tissue proliferation & regeneration
- Accelerated soft tissue and bone repair
- Increased tissue tensile strength
- Enhanced nerve regeneration & function
- Increased cell metabolism
- Increased enzymatic responses
- Increased cell membrane potentials
- Increased microcirculation & vasodilation
- Increased lymphatic flow
- Increased collagen production
- Enhanced angiogenesis (creation of new blood vessels)
What is the power of most laser therapy devices on the market?
Low laser therapy devices are class III lasers whose powers range from 5 milliwatts to 500 milliwatts. The high-powered (Class IV) therapy device comes with more power and is adjustable from 100 milliwatts to 60,000 milliwatts (60 watts), allowing for a wide range of treatment protocols. This power and penetration of the Class IV Laser system is not attainable with cold laser (Class III) devices.
Why is Light Laser Therapy better than some other forms of treatment?
It does not require the use of drugs or surgery, it’s very safe with less side effects or risks, and it is quick and convenient. Studies have shown that it is equal to or more effective than other forms of rehabilitation.
What type of conditions can Class IV LASER therapy help with?
Tendinopathies ∙ Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ∙ Myofascial Trigger Points ∙ Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) ∙ Ligament Sprains ∙ Muscle Strains ∙ Repetitive Stress Injuries ∙ Chondromalacia Patellae ∙ Plantar Fasciitis ∙ Rheumatoid Arthritis ∙ Osteoarthritis ∙ Shoulder, Back & Knee Pain ∙ -Traumatic Injury ∙ Trigeminal Neuralgia∙ Fibromyalgia ∙ Diabetic Neuropathy ∙ Venous Ulcers ∙ Diabetic Foot Ulcers ∙ Burns ∙ Deep Edema / Congestion ∙ Sports Injuries ∙ Auto & Work Related Injuries
Soft Tissue Injuries
Lumbar spinal stenosis
Cervical spinal stenosis
Back and Neck Pain
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Myofascical Trigger Points
Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow and golfer’s elbow)
Sprains, Strains, muscle “pulls”
Repetitive Stress Injuries
Patello Femoral Syndrome
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Degenerative Joint Conditions
Most Sports Injuries
Class IV Laser Therapy Informed Consent Form
What is Class IV (4) Laser Therapy?
Class IV Laser Therapy is a safe and effective therapy that is FDA cleared for the temporary relief of pain and reduction of symptoms associated with mild arthritis and muscle pain. The laser also promotes relaxation of muscle spasm and promotes vasodilation.
Pain relief from laser therapy may be dramatic and substantial, lasting for hours, days or weeks. The primary effects of laser therapy treatments are increased circulation, the release of more oxygen from the bloodstream and enhanced utilization of that oxygen to increase ATP production. Mitochondria are a likely site for the initial effects, leading to increased ATP production, modulation of reactive oxygen species and induction of transcription factors. These effects lead to increased cell proliferation and migration, modulation of cytokines levels, growth factors and inflammatory mediators, and increased tissue oxygenation. Cell permeability is also enhanced/increased. Basically, laser therapy can help with tissue repair most notably in chronic pain/injury.
Studies have also shown that laser promotes accelerated nerve regeneration and improved functional recovery of peripheral nerves (ie. diabetic neuropathy).
How many treatment sessions will I need?
The number of laser therapy sessions you will need depends on the nature and duration of your condition, and other factors. Some acute conditions will respond in 6 or fewer sessions, whereas chronic conditions may take 15 or more treatments. Some chronic conditions require ongoing care to sustain pain relief and functionality.
Treatment cost is $40 per session but it’s recommended buy a package since the best results are obtained with multiple, consistent treatment. Please call and ask about treatment plan options.
What does it feel like to get a treatment?
Most patients describe it as a very soothing, warm sensation. Since, the Class IV Laser Therapy is a high-powered therapy laser, your skin will get warm during the treatment. Many patients feel a significant reduction in pain on the first visit. Occasionally, patients will feel slightly more pain immediately after the treatment- and then feel much better the next day.
How will I feel after the treatment?
You may feel pain relief after just the first treatment. For other patients, it takes a while longer. Most patients report feeling very relaxed, or even tired. If you feel a lot less pain, keep in mind that pain reduction is just one goal. The Class IV Laser is giving your body’s cells more energy, so they repair and regenerate new tissues. The effect of Class IV Laser therapy treatments is cumulative. You will be getting more benefit with successive treatments.
Contraindications for Light Laser Therapy
Our recommendations for each contraindication are as follows:
There is currently no documentation indicating that laser therapy would be harmful to a pregnant woman or her baby.
However, just to be safe – and to prevent any liability issues in the unfortunate case that complications should arise in the pregnancy – we do not recommend treating your patient with laser therapy if she is pregnant.
Most countries have strict regulations as to which practitioners and specialists are authorized to treat cancer. Therefore, you should not use laser therapy on a patient who has cancer, or is suspected to have cancer.
Research is being done, though, with laser therapy and cancer, and in time we will see whether laser therapy could be a supplement in the pain management for terminal cancer patients.
In some countries, laser therapy is being used to treat some of the side effects of cancer treatment. In France, for instance, laser therapy is approved for the treatment of mucositis.
The following are not contraindicated, although they may be contraindicated for other modalities, such as ultrasound.
- Implants, screws, plates
- Epiphyseal plates in children
Note: Pacemakers are only contraindicated if the laser energy is combined with electric or magnetic impulses. Besides warmth, lasers only deliver laser (= light energy). Light is not known to harm objects enclosed in metal.
Areas of caution
Birth marks and tattoos are not necessarily contraindicated, however, you should be careful. The dark colors are likely to absorb the laser energy, which can create some uncomfortable heating. We recommend treating next to a birth mark or tattoo (instead of directly on top of it), or holding the laser with some distance to the skin to start with, and then adjust the intensity based on feedback from your patient.
Other topics of discussion
The following topics are sometimes being discussed as possible contraindications, however, there is currently no research indicating that you should avoid laser therapy in these cases.
Some studies have shown good results in treating issues related to the thyroid, however, the thyroid is also known to be very light sensitive, and some would say not to treat directly over the thyroid until there is further documentation showing that it is not harmful. We have not seen any harmful effects, though.
Blood and coagulation
If your patient has a coagulation disorder, you should be cautious. We know that laser therapy affects the blood coagulation, but we do not have a lot of information about it at this point.
Naturally, you should adjust the dosage according to the weight of the child. Other than that, there is no documentation indicating that laser therapy would be harmful for children.
Irradiation of the brain
There are no indications that laser therapy would be harmful to the brain. On the contrary, the effects of laser therapy for stroke patients, for instance, seem promising.
Some practitioners consider patients who are undergoing radiation therapy contraindicative. However, it is not obvious why, since the two types of radiation are very different.
Research shows that laser therapy strengthens the immune system, which, by way of the blood circulating, might also help the area that is receiving radiation therapy.
Diabetes has been mentioned as a possible contraindication. However, according to Tuner/Hode, laser therapy should rather be recommended as a supplemental treatment because of the positive effect laser therapy has on the blood and wounds. They have not found any studies indicating that laser therapy would be harmful for diabetic patients.
For epileptics, pulsed light at 5-10 Hz may result in epileptic attacks. One study showed that an epileptic patient could only tolerate laser beams with frequencies below 800 Hz.
We therefore recommend being cautious with epileptic patients if treating on or around the skull.
Source: The New Laser Therapy Handbook, Tuner & Hode, Prima Books 2010