Low-level laser therapy,has been used as a treatment for various health conditions for the past few decades, but it was not until 2001 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved cold lasers as a medical device. Since that time, a number of cold laser devices have come to market, including models designed for home use.
Low-level laser therapy can be used to either target and activate acupuncture points, thus acting like acupuncture without the needles, making it an ideal alternative for patients who have a phobia about needles, or to provide a beam of low intensity laser, or photon, light to initiate a series of bioenergetic reactions in the body that stimulate the body’s overall healing mechanisms at the cellular level. The therapy is completely noninvasive and has now been approved by the FDA as a treatment for a variety of health conditions, including acute and chronic pain (including back, neck, and shoulder pain), arthritis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, ligament sprains, muscle strain and tension, tendonitis, and tennis elbow. Cold lasers are also used in conventional medicine for cosmetic surgery, eye surgery, heart surgery and various other conditions.
In addition, research has shown that low-level laser therapy provides a number of important overall physiological benefits. These include:
- Increased cell growth and reproduction
- Increased metabolic activity
- Increased cellular energy (by stimulating production of the mitochondria to produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
- Increased blood flow and overall circulatory function
- Reduced formation of scar tissue
- Improved nerve function
- Faster wound healing.
During low-level laser therapy, photon light is emitted at specific wavelengths and at various levels of penetration into the body. Low levels of penetration are all that is necessary for conditions such as surface scarring and lymphatic congestion, while deeper penetration (up to four to five inches into the body) may be necessary to effectively treat joint pain.