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Cold Laser Therapy to Treat Pain: Can Exposure to Red Light Promote Healing?

Cold Laser Therapy to treat pain
Cold Laser Therapy to treat pain

Cold laser therapy to treat pain is a rapidly growing technology used to reduce inflammation and pain. The red light activates the body’s response to increasing tissue repair, healing, and relief. The low-levels of light are not enough to heat body tissue or cause skin damage. When used correctly, this non-invasive, natural treatment is free from damaging side effects. Other names for this process include low-level laser therapy (LLLT), low-power laser therapy (LPLT), and soft laser biostimulation.

What’s the Science Behind Cold Laser Therapy?

Cold or low-level laser therapy treats pain and inflammation through skin exposure to red and near-infrared light. The long wavelengths stimulate pigment molecules in the mitochondria of skin cells to produce chemicals the body needs for healing and repair.

Uses for Cold Laser Therapy to Treat Pain

LLLT is approved by the FDA for several conditions, from acne to autoimmune disorders. In physical therapy and rehabilitation, it helps alleviate the chronic pain of carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. It also reduces pain and swelling for minor injuries such as:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Tendinitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Neck and back pain
  • Knee and joint pain

Pros and Cons of Cold Laser Therapy

Soft lasers are safe and effective when used by a qualified practitioner. The process is quick and non-invasive. The procedure takes a few minutes, and all the patient feels is the device on their skin—there is no heat or pain.

On the downside, most patients require multiple sessions per week, and it may take several weeks before you feel the full effects. Some insurers may not cover laser treatments. Fortunately, the staff at Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation will provide the best care possible regardless of insurance.

When to Avoid Cold Laser Therapy

While there are no known side-effects in healthy patients, there are times when LLLT is not advisable. For example, avoid using it directly over malignant tumors except for pain relief in terminal cases. You also don’t want to use cold laser therapy over tattoos or thyroids. The effects have not been tested on unborn children, so women should avoid this treatment while pregnant.

When to Refer for Cold Laser Therapy

When patients experience pain, start with the least-invasive options. Consider referring patients for cold laser therapy to treat pain before moving to shots or surgery.  Laser therapy is also good for weaning patients off pain medications. If you are interested in learning more about our low-level laser treatment options, give us a call at 201-833-1333.

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