I am often asked about cold laser therapy and how it can help. The short answer: it relieves pain and inflammation by improving microcirculation and stimulating accelerated healing. For those of you looking for a little more information; read on!
It has been shown to reduce the ability of local nerves to transmit pain to the brain which often results in an immediate decrease in pain. 1, 2
When I first bought the laser I was excited to try it on anything and everything. Three months prior to buying the laser, I injured my back diving off a high dive causing me to hyperextend my spine. The injury wasn't serious, but for those three months it was naggingly present every time I extended my back. The first time I used the laser, the pain was reduced by at least 50%! Not bad for a couple minutes of laser treatment! Over subsequent weeks I continued laser therapy and some foam rolling exercises and the pain went away.
Lets start with the name: cold laser. Sounds chilly, right? Well it definitely is cool (cold laser pun) but it's not actually cold. It's called a cold laser to distinguish it from lasers that generate heat. While there are benefits from applying heat to the body, that is not how cold laser therapy works. It works by using laser light to stimulate cells within the body. Each cell in our body has something called mitochondria, which is the part of the cell that is responsible for energy production. Each mitochondrion has a photoreceptor which is basically a light sensor. When we stimulate this light sensor (with the laser) it increases energy production thereby helping the cell work faster to do it's job. See the research here: 1, 2
Laser light also causes changes in circulation by stimulating the release of nitrous oxide. When nitrous oxide is released in the blood, it causes vessels to dilate (expand). This allows for more blood to enter and leave the area which allows for more rapid delivery of nutrients and clearing away waste products. See the research here: 1, 2.
This type of laser has also been studied for its wound healing properties and was found to help wounds heal faster by reducing inflammation and increasing collagen production in the wound. Collagen is one of the primary proteins involved in wound healing. See the research here: 1, 2, 3
To summarize: cold laser therapy has been studied extensively and has been found to be effective in treating a wide variety of conditions and has many actions that are beneficial for the healing of our bodies. Other main benefits of cold laser therapy is that it is extremely safe (much safer than any medication), it is painless, and doesn't take very long to administer.
Below you will find a list of conditions that can be effectively treated with cold laser therapy and if you click on each one your will find research supporting its use for that specific condition.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
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AJ Ludlow is a Doctor of Physical Therapy serving the Provo/Orem area and specializing in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and injuries.