When you hear about laser technologies used in medical applications, you often picture hot, searing beams of light meant to cauterize wounds or cut and remove flesh or tumors. But did you know that there is a type of therapy that is quite the opposite — it is described as “cold” rather than “hot,” and promotes healing and recovery instead of breaking down tissues?
Cold laser therapy, also known as low-level or soft laser treatment, is called such because it uses a light wavelength that is low enough to prevent the increase of the thermal temperature in the area of the body to be treated.
How does it work?
This type of therapy involves the use of a handheld cold laser device that is placed directly over the affected area. Non-thermal light photons are emitted, and they penetrate the different layers of the skin (the dermis, epidermis and subcutaneous tissue or tissue fat) to reach the target area.
Light-sensitive structures in the cells absorb the light energy of the laser and trigger reactions that stimulate healing in injured or damaged tissue (thanks to a boost in intracellular metabolism and blood circulation) as well as the reduction of inflammation and pain.
What health conditions can it be used for?
Because cold laser therapy can promote regeneration and healing in muscles, nerves, soft tissues, bones, joints and ligaments, it is now being used in conjunction with pain management regimens and chiropractic care. Specifically, it has been found to be helpful in helping treat joint injuries deep in the body, which cannot be addressed through superficial treatment methods.
Acute and chronic pain conditions that can be resolved using cold laser treatments include plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis, low back or neck pain, sprains and strains, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, dislocations, disc problems, ligament injuries, tendonitis, and other muscle disorders and injuries.
Are there advantages and disadvantages?
One of the pros of undergoing cold laser therapy is that it is a non-invasive procedure; this means that there is little pain involved because of the absence of surgical incisions, and therefore recovery time is also faster.
It’s also important to consider, however, that cold laser therapy is administered through a series of treatment sessions; depending on the severity of the condition, it can take up to eight through 30 treatments to get full relief from pain symptoms.
Who can administer cold laser therapy?
It’s best to consult specialists such as chiropractors, pain doctors, physical therapists and medical doctors about utilizing this type of therapy for your individual pain condition. It’s best to visit a center that brings these specialists together under one roof as they will be in the best position to draw from different conventional and progressive treatment methods to devise a pain management plan that is specifically suited to your unique condition.