What is Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) ? Cold Laser Therapy?
Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is a laser or LED light therapy that improves tissue repair (skin wounds, muscle, tendon, bone, nerves), reduces inflammation and reduces pain wherever the beam is applied.
This modality has been used to treat a number of conditions, including pain and inflammation, with notable reported success.
What can Low Level Laser Therapy be a treatment for?
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. We regularly use laser therapy to treat issues such as:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Myofascial Trigger Points
- Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
- Ligament Sprains
- Muscle Strains
- Repetitive Stress Injuries
- Chondromalacia Patellae
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Shoulder, Back & Knee Pain
- Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
- Post-Traumatic Injury
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Venous Ulcers
- Diabetic Foot Ulcers
- Deep Edema / Congestion
- Sports Injuries
- Auto & Work Related Injuries
- Frozen Shoulder
Here are some of the most common conditions – and further detail.
Rheumatoid, Osteoarthritis and Gout
Laser therapy delivers pain-relief and addresses the inflammation in arthritic conditions.
Rheumatoid arthritis. Laser therapy influences small joints directly and large joints indirectly. It strengthens the antiphlogistic processes and depresses the autoimmune response. The effects in the early stages of the condition can be impressive, but with chronic conditions, although pain is eased on treatment, longer treatment courses measured in months are necessary in order to make a substantive differences to the condition. It has been reported that 6 months can be a turning point. It also appears that adding laser therapy to prescribed medication gives improved results over medication alone.
Gout. Gout attacks can be curtailed and the symptoms reduced. Laser therapy inhibits inflammation, eases pain, reduces swelling and joint tenderness.
Osteoarthritis. In cases of osteoarthritis, laser therapy may slow down the degenerative process as well as ease acute symptoms. In the case of large joints such as the hip joint, the therapeutic effects of laser are brought on by an improvement and strengthening of the surrounding tissues. Laser therapy activates the microcirculation and the metabolism, prevents oedema and triggers anti-inflammatory processes in the synovial membrane.
Achilles Tendonosis, Plantar Fasciitis and other joint tendons.
Laser therapy is widely used to treat various types of tendonitis, both with direct application and by the use of trigger point stimulation. Infra-red laser is generally used and the depth of the tendon beneath the skin dictates the dosage and the area of inflammation the number of points to be treated at each session.
Whether tennis elbow or golf elbow, laser treatment is applicable with beneficial effects. In the acute stages, laser relieves pain, reduces swelling and activates tissue generation as part of optimising the healing process. With some chronic cases laser therapy is able to restart this healing process to bring to resolution, but in cases where this is not possible it can be used on an ongoing basis to manage inflammation and pain and used in a preventative manner.
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and other Neuralgic pain.
Laser therapy can be highly effective for carpel tunnel syndrome, when correctly diagnosed. In such a compression neuralgia, low level laser acts by reducing oedema and reducing or eliminating pain. If treated early, complete remission of symptoms can be achieved with laser alone.
For more long-standing conditions it is most useful as a complementary measure. If surgery has been undertaken, then laser therapy’s ability to promote wound-healing and again address pain both through nociceptor suppression and endorphin release, make it an ideal therapy for optimal post-operative recovery.
A brief background on Low Level Laser Therapy.
Research has clearly demonstrated effects at cellular level, in animals and from clinical experience, but work continues into understanding exactly how laser therapy works. The key research questions today are not whether low level lasers have positive effects, but how the precise and multiple biological mechanisms combine to create the physiological effects and how best to achieve the particular effects sought in each of the wide range of relevant applications.
In the meantime LLLT is now widely used by healthcare professionals across the world who appreciate not only its effectiveness but its added advantages of being drug-free, pain-free, non-invasive and without unpleasant side effects. It is often less expensive than alternative treatments and has fewer contraindications than popular forms of electrotherapy, such as ultrasound.
How does Low Level Laser Therapy work?
Low Level Laser Therapy aims to biostimulate. Because of its low power nature, the effects are biochemical and not thermal and cannot cause heating and thereby damage to living tissue. Three distinct photobiological effects are known to occur when using Low Level Laser Therapy:
1. Healing growth factor response through:
Increased ATP and protein synthesis
Improved cell proliferation
Change in cell membrane permeability to calcium up-take
2. Pain Relief through:
Increased endorphin release
Suppression of nociceptor action
3. Immune system support through:
Increasing levels of lymphocyte activity
Photomodulation of blood
Low level laser therapy optimises the speed of repair in acute injuries but will also stimulate the body’s repair processes in cases of non-healing or chronic conditions.
In addition, low level laser is used as an alternative medium in the practice of acupuncture:
Laser Acupuncture provides:
An effective general needle-free alternative
Distinct energising characteristics
A complementary medium in the suite alongside needles and moxibustion.
When do we use LLLT?
At Back2Fitness, we will always discus the treatment options. Low Level Laser Therapy is only one treatment option. As part of our treatment plan, all modalities are in conjunction with other forms of treatment in order to get the best results for you!
Some more details:
Watch the video that will explain a little more – Click
1. Peplow et al. (2010). “Application of low level laser technologies for pain relief and wound healing: Overview of scientific bases”. Physical Therapy Reviews. 15(4): 253-285.
2. Bjordal et al. (2010). “The anti-inflammatory mechanism of low level laser therapy and its relevance for clinical use in physiotherapy.” Physical Therapy Reviews. 15(4): 286-293.
4. Chow et al. (2009). “Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials.” Lancet. 374(9705): 1897–1908.