Low-Level Laser Therapy

How Cold Lasers and Low-Level Lasers Work to Relieve Pain

Throughout the years, cold or low-level laser therapy (LLLT) has become a hot topic in the medical community. As more research on cold laser technology is conducted, organizations and agencies across the world are beginning to recognize the many benefits that LLLT can offer patients.

Erchonia’s commitment to scientific and clinical research in the advancement of LLLT has made the company a recognized world leader in LLLT technology. The following is an explanation of Erchonia’s cold low- level lasers and their benefits in the medical community.

What is Cold Laser Treatment?

LLLT, also called cold laser therapy or photobiomodulation therapy, is a type of phototherapy designed to repair tissue, reduce pain and inflammation, target fat and provide other benefits for patients in both medical and veterinary treatments. The capabilities of low-level lasers have been used in fat loss and pain relief for over 50 years.

During a treatment regimen, a small device emitting laser beam or visible nonthermal lasers is placed over the target area. The low levels of light penetrate the tissue without heating or damaging the skin.

Unlike traditional lasers, which use around 300 watts, cold lasers use between five and 500 milliwatts. True to their name, they don’t burn the skin or produce pain, and the FDA gives them NHN (non-heating instruments) classification. In contrast, a laser used for surgeries cuts through the skin and can lead to severe scarring and pain.

How Low-Level Lasers can be Used for Pain Relief

Cold lasers can stimulate all types of cells, including muscle, ligaments, nerves and cartilage. This stimulation of light energy works similar to photosynthesis in plants, as it is absorbed and interacts with light-sensitive components in the body’s cells. The treatment promotes the body’s natural healing — which may have been impeded through the tissue damage — by stimulating mitochondria and encouraging the cells to produce more ATP. As a non-invasive procedure, LLLT can be performed at an outpatient clinic, providing a distinct advantage over traditional laser surgery. There is no recovery time and no side effects, which makes LLLT an attractive treatment option for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Low Back Pain

  • Neck and Shoulder pain

  • Onychomycosis

  • Plantar Fasciitis

  • Post-Operation Wound Healing

A Safe Symptom-Relief Solution

for Numerous Conditions
Since 1967, more than 2,500 studies have been conducted on the safety and effectiveness of LLLT in providing relief from pain and other symptoms. Many of these studies attest to its reliability in treating these conditions and recommend the treatment as a preferred non-invasive technique.

With 17 FDA market clearances, Erchonia laser products have been proven to safely assist patients in pain management and fat loss.

Erchonia’s FX-635 laser, for example, boasted a 72 percent success rate during clinical trials. With a focus on safety and innovation, many industry professionals turn to Erchonia’s lasers to safely and effectively treat patient conditions.

The human body uses light-induced photochemical reactions on a daily basis. From the photosensitive cells in our eyes to the light-reliant vitamin D synthesis process in our skin, our bodies rely on and can use light in numerous ways. It stands to reason, then, that many cells in the human body may react to light. So how does light affect cells in the body, and how can it be used for the benefit of human health? That is the question behind the treatment method known as low-level laser therapy or photobiomodulation.

What Is Low-Level Laser Therapy?

Low-level laser therapy is known by several names. Most commonly, it is known as photobiomodulation therapy, low-power laser therapy, cold laser therapy or simply by the acronyms LLLT or PBMT.

Low-level laser therapy is a term that describes the therapeutic application of light to the body. First developed in 1967 by Endre Mester in Hungary, low-level laser therapy involves placing a light source near to or on the skin, allowing the photons to move through the tissue and interact with cells in the body. Mester first developed this method after finding that it improved hair growth and stimulated wound healing in mice. Shortly after his initial development of the treatment method, Mester explored the therapy’s ability to aid in the healing of skin ulcers in 1972.

Low-level laser treatment doesn’t involve the use of the high-powered lasers that most people are familiar with. Instead, low-level lasers, LEDs and broadband lights are used to emit red and near infra-red light with wavelengths of 632 nm to 1064 nm at 1 to 1000 mW. These low-power light sources do not generate heat, so they do not burn the skin during the therapeutic process.

Since the development of the process, the benefits of applying laser therapy treatments have been explored at length. The photochemical changes that occur in cells as a reaction to the application of light can help accelerate wound healing and tissue regeneration, increase circulation, reduce inflammation and even help manage pain.

How Does Laser Therapy Work?

While the benefits of photobiomodulation have been observed in medical studies, the mechanisms that lead to these results are still being studied. Though we still have plenty to learn about the effects of light energy on

different types of cells, the general consensus is that light therapy works primarily by affecting the mitochondria inside human cells.

The primary idea behind photobiology is that when light hits certain molecules, called chromophores, the energy of the photon causes electrons in those molecules to be excited and jump into higher-energy orbits, effectively storing energy within the molecule. The mitochondria of the cell are thought to contain such chromophores, allowing them to store more energy to be used in the biochemical processes that mitochondria complete. Mitochondria then use this energy to increase the production of essential substances in the body. The most important of these are the following:

  • Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP): ATP is functionally the energy storage molecule for the human body, used in virtually all of the biochemical processes that allow us to function. This includes processes that help our bodies to grow and heal.

  • Reactive Oxygen Series (ROS): ROS is a mild oxidant that is essential in the gene transcription process, which is a critical part of cellular repair and healing.

  • Nitric Oxide (NO): Nitric oxide is an essential molecule in the body’s cellular communication system, helping transmit signals through the body, which can help improve overall body healing. Nitric oxide is also helpful in dilating blood vessels to improve circulation.

Several other mechanisms are likely improved through the use of laser therapy. For example, NO improves the production of cyclic guanine monophosphate, which is involved in other signaling pathways in the body. Laser therapy also improves the synthesis of DNA and RNA, which in turn promotes the production of proteins and growth factors in the body.

Laser Therapy Benefits

The biological processes promoted by laser therapy result in various health benefits to users, each of which has been studied at length. A few of the benefits of laser therapy are discussed in detail below:

1. Pain Reduction

Pain is the most common reason that people see doctors in the United States, with one in three Americans affected by chronic pain each year.
Low-level laser treatment has been explored in various studies as a method of decreasing several types of pain, including the following:

  • Orthopedic pain: Low-level light therapy has had pain-reducing effects on patients recovering from sprains, whiplash, muscular pain, cervical or lumbar radiculopathy, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. It has also shown positive effects on individuals with chronic conditions like arthritis and osteoarthritis. It’s may even bee effective at treating post-surgical pain, and one study showed that low-level light therapy was an effective tool in managing pain for patients recovering from total hip arthroplasty surgeries.

  • Neuropathic pain: Neuropathic pain conditions can be treated effectively with photobiomodulation, including various types of neuralgia and diabetic neuropathy.

Laser therapy treatment has also been effective in managing pain for athletes recovering from training or injuries It is thought that the reason low- level laser therapy is so effective is that it stimulates the nerve endings of nociceptors, or pain receptors, that lie close to the skin.

2. Fat Reduction

Multiple studies have been conducted to determine whether low-level laser treatment can be used for fat reduction with positive results overall. One review found that laser therapy is effective at reducing fat and cellulite and improving blood lipid profiles with little to no side effects. The current theory as to why laser therapy is so effective in this area is that laser therapy helps induce adipocyte apoptosis, releasing stored fat from the body.

3. Inflammation Management

Laser therapy treatment has been widely regarded as an effective way to manage and reduce inflammation in a variety of applications. Athletic programs commonly use low-light laser therapy to help reduce inflammation and promote muscle recovery for training or injured athletes. Additionally, medical practices have used laser therapy as a way to manage inflammation for patients recovering from various injuries. One study showed that low-level light therapy effectively reduced post-surgery inflammation for patients recovering from total hip arthroplasty surgeries. The primary mechanism by which light therapy helps reduce inflammation is vasodilation. In vasodilation, small arteries and lymph vessels increase in

size, allowing inflammation, swelling and edema to move away from injury sites. Not only does this mechanism reduce inflammation, but it also improves the healing process overall.

Low-Level Laser Application Areas

While laser therapy has numerous potential benefits that are still being researched, several practical applications are already on the market. Below are a few of the more common laser applications in which Erchonia Corporation lasers specializes:

1. Chronic Low Back Pain

About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Of those adults, approximately 60% are treated with opioids, despite the potential for addiction and the minimal value of opioids in long-term applications. Erchonia’s FX 635 laser showed a 72% success rate in their clinical trial, which received FDA market clearance in May 2018. The FX 635 treatment of chronic low back pain is groundbreaking in the pain management field and gives patients a safer, more effective treatment option.

1. Neck and Shoulder Pain

Various low-level lasers have been shown to be effective in reducing and eliminating acute and chronic neck and shoulder pain. Many patients find that low-level lasers are more effective and work faster than traditional pain medications. Combined with physical therapy and chiropractic treatments, Erchonia lasers can help patients live a normal, healthy, active life without debilitating pain.

2. Body Contouring

Erchonia lasers are proven to target and eliminate fat in areas that are difficult to reduce with regular diet and exercise. The Zerona laser is proven to stimulate the body at a cellular level, targeting these difficult areas.

The Erchonia EML laser is approved as an addition to traditional liposuction surgery. It is the first and only low-level laser to be given FDA market clearance for use before and during liposuction treatments. The painless laser treatment is applied before liposuction to liquefy the fat, making it easier to remove during the surgery. In addition to improving surgery outcomes, the application of this low-level laser has been shown to reduce post-operative pain and bruising and decrease overall recovery time.

Do Low-Level Lasers Actually Work?

Though low-level laser treatment is a relatively new field of medicine, the results speak for themselves. As the studies mentioned above show, patients recovering from injuries, surgeries and more can expect excellent results from low-level laser therapy, and people looking to improve their hair, skin and pain outcomes already have options available to them.

It is important to note, however, that low-level laser treatments may not be the best option for everyone. Pregnant women, for example, are not recommended to pursue laser therapy treatments since the effects on fetuses are not well understood. Results may also vary per person — the number of treatments needed may vary depending on the condition, the severity of this condition and the patient’s response to treatment.

Despite it being a relatively new field of study, cold lasers are still being studied at length for their potential benefits. Laser therapy applications are currently being studied for use against viruses, scars, burns, wound healing and much more.

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