What is LASER?
A laser is a device that produces light (electromagnetic radiation) through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. In PUBMED National Library of Medicine, it is stated that lasers were introduced in 1963. The term “laser” originated as an abbreviation for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Laser is considerable for its high degree of spatial coherence, and unachievable using other technologies. Lasers operate in the infra-red, visible, ultraviolet, or X-ray regions of the spectrum. Since 1963 more than 28000 studies are categorized in this field.
What is Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)?
There are two types of medical lasers: High Power and Low Power.
- High power lasers are used to cut and disrupt through tissue. The power of these lasers is higher than 500mW (0.5-100W).
- Low level lasers, or low power lasers on the other hand, are used to stimulate tissue repair through a process of bio-stimulation. The power of these lasers is lower than 500mW.
In PUBMED a new sub heading of studies (Mesh) has been considered for this area of studies since 2002 and about 2580 studies are done since then.
Low Level Laser Therapy is described in PUBMED as follows:
Low Level Laser Therapy-Treatment using irradiation with laser light of low power intensity so that the effects are not due to heat, as in laser therapy. These non-thermal effects are thought to be mediated by a photochemical reaction that alters cell membrane permeability, leading to increased mRNA synthesis and cell proliferation. Low Level Laser Therapy has been used for a wide variety of conditions, but most frequently for wound
healing and pain control.
In 1967, a few years after the first working laser was designed, Endre Mesatr in Semmelwies University in Budapest, Hungary experimented with the effects of lasers on skin cancer. While applying lasers to the backs of shaven mice, he noticed that the shaved hair grew back more quickly on the treated group than the untreated group.
How does LLLT work?
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive and non-medical treatment that uses low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes to alter cellular function. LLLT is controversial in mainstream medicine with ongoing research to determine whether there is a demonstrable effect. Laser light directs biostimulative light energy to the body’s cells which the cells then convert into chemical energy to promote natural healing and pain relief. Since light is a form of energy, LLLT “energizes” the tissue. Laser penetrates into soft tissue and increases the action of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that is a major carrier of energy from one reaction site to another in all living cells. By doing so, laser light increases the energy available to cells so they take in nutrients faster and get rid of waste products.
The effects of LLLT have results through different mechanisms such as:
- Increases blood supply and re-establishes blood flow.
- Reduces edema and swelling by increasing lymphatic derange.
- Stimulates the immune system.
- Helps to generate new and healthy cells.
- Increases protein and collagen synthesis so promotes faster wound healing and reconstruction.
- Increases the speed, quality and tensile strength of tissue repair.
- Anti-inflammatory action.
- Reducing the pain threshold and boosting the endorphins (body’s natural pain killing chemicals).
- LLLT reduces pain related to inflammation.
- Stimulates nerve function and regeneration.
- Accelerates bone regeneration and re-mineralization.
- Washes out accumulated inflammatory waste substance away from the injured site and keeps nutrients in to the site for improvement.
What are the applications of LLLT?
Nowadays LLLT is used in almost every field of medicine: Physical Therapy, Rheumatology, Orthopedics, Traumatology, Sports Medicine, Dermatology, Neurology, Internal medicine, Anesthesiology, Gastrointestinal and Cardiopulmonary disorders, Gynecology, ENT, Dentistry, Acupuncture and Veterinary medicine, and so on.
LLLT is used for pain management as a modality of treatment in most pain clinics and pain controlling services. LLLT is used to treat:
- Pain relief (muscles, joints, nerves)
- Plantar fasciitis
- Migraine headaches
- Lower back pain
- Repetitive stress injuries (RSI)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
- Fibromyalgia / myofascial pain
- Rotator cuff injury
- Sprains and strains
- Post-operative pain
- Knee, foot, ankle pain
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- TMJ inflammation and pain
- Soft tissue injuries
- Post-operative wounds
- pressure sores