What is laser therapy? It is the use of light emitting devices to stimulate cells and tissues in the body by means of non-thermal (cold) irradiation. Resonant absorption of photons causes the target molecule to release chemically bound energy from their atoms in the form of heat (activation). The heat, in turn, induces metabolic dysfunctions which end up producing therapeutic effects on organs and tissues. Depending upon the nature of these dysfunctions, therapeutic effects include anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-proliferative and immunomodulatory results.
The mechanism of action of laser therapy
Laser therapy has been used clinically for decades. The application of laser energy involves the transfer of photons (particles of light) into the target tissue where they interact with the cells. There are two interactions that lead to clinical effects: photochemical and photothermal. These two processes are dependent on wavelength, power density, and exposure time.
Photochemical interaction occurs between the laser energy and various chromophores, which include cytochrome c oxidase and mitochondrial DNA. Studies have shown that this interaction results in an increase in cellular metabolism, including increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), protein synthesis, calcium ion mobilization and upregulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
A photothermal effect is produced by the absorption of laser energy by water within intracellular and extracellular spaces. The absorbed light converts to heat as a result of vibrational friction between water molecules or intermolecular collision and can cause changes at a cellular level by thermal diffusion or by photochemical effects.
The mechanism-of-action for laser therapy is not entirely understood, but there is evidence suggesting that the following physiological responses occur:
Increased blood circulation
Stimulated nerve function
Laser stimulation inhibits the production of inflammatory molecules, including prostaglandins and leukotrienes.
Laser stimulation inhibits the production of inflammatory molecules, including prostaglandins and leukotrienes. It also increases the formation of anti-inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines. The modulation of these inflammatory pathways is believed to be the primary mechanism by which laser therapy reduces pain, swelling and inflammation.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, laser treatment stimulates a variety of other processes in human tissue. These include enhanced fibroblast proliferation and collagen synthesis, increased ATP production within cells, improved microcirculation and reduced edema. As a result of these additional effects, laser therapy is considered to be an effective means of accelerating the healing process.
Laser therapy increases the number of mitochondria in muscles, which improves energy production.
This is one of many mechanisms which contribute to improving performance.
Laser therapy reduces pain and inflammation. Inflammation and swelling caused by injury or disease can result in pain and reduced mobility. By reducing swelling and inflammation, laser therapy can reduce pain and improve range of motion.
Laser therapy improves circulation. Increased circulation brings oxygen to the affected area, which promotes healing and reduces inflammation.
Laser therapy stimulates nerve regeneration. Laser therapy helps to restore damaged nerves by stimulating healthy nerve regeneration, which can help to restore sensory function.
Laser therapy speeds up wound healing. Laser light accelerates tissue repair and cell growth, increasing the speed of wound healing, as well as reducing scarring and increasing tensile strength at the site of a wound/incision.
Laser therapy has been shown to help with nerve regeneration in a variety of ways. It has been shown to be particularly effective for patients who have had spinal surgery, but also for patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy or carpal tunnel syndrome.
There is no evidence that infrared radiation damages healthy cells.
A device with a laser emitting a red light at 650 nm wavelength is held so that the beam is perpendicular to the skin. The distance to the skin is typically 1 cm and the laser is pulsed at 0.5 Hz.
The infrared radiation heats up water molecules in the dermis, producing an increase in blood circulation and a decrease in muscle tension of the underlying muscles. Thermal relaxation time is about 2 minutes, allowing for about 4 pulses per second for continuous operation.
Since there are no published studies on using lasers for treatment of fibromyalgia, it has not been determined what duration of treatment is needed or how long the effects last.
Laser therapy is both a mechanical benefit and an immunological benefit.
If you’re considering laser therapy for your wrinkles, there are several things to consider. First, what exactly is laser therapy? Laser treatments involve the use of lasers to target specific areas of the skin in order to smooth fine lines, rejuvenate (or tighten) skin and stimulate collagen production.
Second, how do you know that it’s a good option for you? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each patient has their own unique characteristics – so take some time to find out what will work best for you.
Third, what are the benefits of having laser therapy? Laser treatment is a mechanical benefit because it tightens or smoothes the skin; it is also an immunological benefit because lasers stimulate collagen production in the skin – as we age, collagen production decreases. That makes lasers an excellent option for patients who are suffering from wrinkles or fine lines because they provide both mechanical and immunological benefits.
Laser therapy can reduce pain in a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, back and neck pain, cancer pain, fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines, neuropathy, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff injuries and other shoulder problems, carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries.
Laser therapy is non-invasive.
No drugs or anesthesia are required.
There are no known side effects.
The treatments are quick and convenient.
Many patients notice results after the first or second treatment.
It is safe for all ages from newborns to the elderly.
It works well with other modalities (physical therapy, chiropractic treatment) as well as on its own.