“No pain, no gain,” says the common saying, but those who are victims of physical pain would undoubtedly agree that this aphorism refers to growth and emotional pain. Physical pain, by contrast, is a hindrance to growth.
When you are hemmed in by pain, your options become more limited; you are unable or unwilling to use your body in many of the ways you once took for granted. It’s a frustrating feeling and you are keen to explore all options for banishing that pain and expanding your opportunities. And that’s where laser therapy enters the picture.
What is Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy is a non-invasive method of treatment that relies on light beams of various wavelengths delivered by a laser to reduce pain. It helps to heal soft tissue and provides pain relief.
Laser therapy relies on the laser, a device based on a theory first proposed by Albert Einstein in 1916, the Theory of Light Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Radiation (LASER).
Hungarian physicist Andre Mester was the pioneer in using a low-powered laser for medical treatment, beginning in 1967, only a few years after the first working laser was produced.
How does it Work?
Laser light on the infrared spectrum interacts with the body’s tissues, generally absorbed by the skin through a handheld laser device that targets a specific area. The light emitted by the laser creates physical changes in the cells in a process called photobiomodulation.
It passes through the layers of skin and interacts with the light-sensitive elements in a cell, increasing internal metabolic activity and increasing the flow of nutrients across the cell’s membrane.
In other words, the laser brings light to living tissues and its energy increases circulation, which in turn brings nutrients and water to the cells to create an ideal healing environment for pain and inflammation reduction, stiffness and muscle spasms.
Benefits Produced by Laser Therapy
The benefits of laser therapy are many and varied, extending beyond pain relief:
- Acceleration in tissue repair and healing.
- Analgesia (reduction of pain).
- Angiogenesis (new vascular supply formation).
- Improved nerve function Inflammation reduction.
- Increased cellular metabolic activity.
- Reduction in fibrous tissue (scar tissue) formation.
- Stimulation of acupuncture points and meridians.
- Stimulation of immune cell activity.
In addition, there are clinical benefits. Laser therapy can offer an alternative to surgery in many cases: it’s non-invasive, it can be effective for conditions that are difficult to treat using more traditional methods, it’s easy and, it is backed by scientific proof of its effectiveness. Numerous research studies have been undertaken to illustrate the success of laser therapy.
Conditions that Benefit from Laser Therapy
Laser therapy can have a beneficial effect on a variety of conditions that involve muscles, tendons and ligaments, including:
- Low back pain
- Neck pain
- Arthritis pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Fibromyalgia pain
Laser therapy can reduce healing time, thanks to an increase in intercellular metabolism. Generally, the sooner laser therapy is employed after injury or after pain becomes intolerable, the better the healing and the more quickly the pain dissipates and the healing takes place.
The more chronic the condition, the slower it may be to respond to laser therapy. The treatment is cumulative, so the patient generally needs a series of treatments to eliminate pain and promote healing.
Undergoing Laser Therapy for Pain
When you decide upon laser therapy for pain, you’ll have an initial consultation with the clinician who delivers the therapy, whether a physician, physiotherapist or other healthcare professional, to determine the extent of your injury or condition.
Treatment will follow. There is no reason to be fearful of the experience. It is painless. Treatments usually last for 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the acuteness of the injury and the size and depth of the affected area, since these high-powered lasers can deliver energy quickly.
You can expect the laser therapy practitioner to use a handheld device about the size of a flashlight that he or she will run over the skin above the affected area. The laser often has changeable heads that are geared toward effectiveness in various areas of the body.
Often, you will feel a soothing, warming sensation as the photons of light pass through the skin. When the practitioner attaches a massage ball head to the laser, patients often compare the experience to a massage.
In a number of provinces, including British Columbia and Ontario, laser therapy is covered by provincial healthcare plans, making it easy to choose. Given the ease of treatment and its beneficial effects, why not give Laser Therapy a try?