Laser therapy, a new technique that has swept the world by storm, seem to be a cure-all in its advanced techniques and wide uses. Laser stands for ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation’. This therapy utilizes the light spectrum capability to alter the body’s ability to perform tasks, such as increasing cell regrowth or accelerating degradation of targeted groups of cells. Laser therapy has increased the precision in medical procedures beyond previous capabilities to the cellular level. Laser therapy has illuminated the world to precision medicine.
Additionally, laser therapy is used in dermatology to remove moles, hair, and malignant surface tissue. Some laser treatments can be considered cosmetic, including light therapy. ‘LT’ can be used to destroy growths, reattach a retina, destroy kidney stones, and treat pain. Laser therapy procedures can have one of two effects: to remove, such as in the case of small growths, or to seal, nerve endings or blood vessels. The heat produced from laser therapies can be beneficial in pain management. Additionally, light procedures are being used to pioneer the world of photobioactivation, in which light is used to activate genes within cells to help reduce pain. Photobioactivation is able to turn on protective activity at a cellular level to manage pain.
LT uses the power of laser precision and light intensity to perform a myriad of jobs. An intense, narrow beam of light can be used to cut and destroy tissue in cancer treatment and cosmetic treatments. LT can be used to treat soft tissue injury as well. Most laser therapy treatments require patients to undergo anesthesia, which may not make this the best decision for every patient. It is always important to have a conversation with your doctor if considering this form of therapy. Laser treatments can be varied in administrations, such as duration of treatment and choice between continuous or pulsed light emission. The amount of LT treatments someone might undergo may differ depending on what is being treated, and how well the body responds to the light treatment. Favorable results are often seen after the first treatment.
Light therapies can differ in intensity. Low-level light therapies, LLLT, are used to treat pain in rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. Discrete intensities are absorbed into tissues distinctly, which allows for a variety of therapies and applications. LLLT focuses the light dosage on specific pain-sensitive points of the body known to be associated with reducing pain and inflammation in other parts of the body. The human body can experience many benefits of heat therapies including increased blood flow and reduction of inflammation. LLLT is one way in which many doctors offer clinical heat therapy, as it has less risks associated with it than comparable heat therapies and goes beyond at-home methods.
Another form of therapy known as cold laser therapy, which does not produce heat, is currently being used in spinal pain management. Cold light therapy uses non-thermal photons, or a beam of light that does not produce heat, can penetrate the skin up to 5 cm using specific intensities and dosages. A benefit of cold therapy is that it is noninvasive, meaning that no incision is made during the surgical procedure. Consequently, CLT does not involve medications or prolonged recovery time like a traditional surgery would.
Some benefits of Laser therapy are the less-invasive nature of the procedure, minimal scarring, shortened postoperative recovery time, and reduced pain and swelling. There are fewer side effects associated with LT compared to traditional, more invasive procedures. Laser therapy can also be used post-operation to facilitate cellular regrowth in conjunction with other procedures. Laser therapy has opened many doors in the world of science, research and medicine, and will continue to change our world, one cell at a time.
Although laser therapy has many benefits, it is not necessary for some procedures and not fit for everyone. Always talk to your doctor when deciding on procedures, even if they are considered cosmetic or require no hospital stay.
For more information:
Baxter, D. (2008) Low Intensity Laser Therapy. Chapter 11 in : Electrotherapy : Evidence Based Practice. Editor : T Watson. Elsevier.
Kitchen, S Partridge, C. (1991) A Review of Low Level Laser Therapy. Physiotherapy 77(161-168)
King, P. (1990) Low-level laser therapy: A Review. Physiotherapy Theory & Practice 6(127-138)
Karu, T. (1987) Photobiological fundamentals of low power laser therapy. IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics QE23(10);1703-1717