Pain Doesn’t Have to Be the Name of the Game: Low-Level Laser Therapy Could Be the Answer

After suffering from injury or disease, the healing processes of the body can be long, drawn-out, and perhaps never complete. People learn to live with their pain, cope with the symptoms that plague them, and become reliant on prescription drugs to ease their daily struggles. 

All those who deal with these kinds of medical conditions want is to alleviate their pain without constant drug use, reliance on doctors, or remaining forever caught in the merry-go-round of the health care system. Often, those answers never seem to come. Low-intensity laser light therapy, however, offers a hopeful and non-invasive alternative to traditional medical options. 

Low-intensity laser light therapy, commonly known as low-level laser therapy, applies lasers with low power to the area of  injury or disease on the body. The type of laser used, and the parameters to which it is set, are of utmost importance. The vast majority of research shows that low power lasers can provide the most benefits to healing — not the high-powered lasers often manufactured and sold in the U.S.

Photos Courtesy of Aidan Franko

The necessary tools are “laser systems manufactured and utilized in Canada and Europe [called] ‘Class 3B’ lasers — lower power settings of around 90mW-300mW with certain specific wavelengths,” Melinda Couch, a physical therapist at Peak Performance Physical Therapy, said. 

Dr. Norman Doidge explains in his book, “The Brain’s Way of Healing”, that the low power light from these lasers “triggers adenosine triphosphate production (ATP), which is why it can initiate and accelerate the repair and growth of healthy new cells.” In cells, there is a light sensitive molecule called “cytochrome.” As photons from the laser light meet the cytochrome, they stimulate the creation of ATP, which stores energy in cells. Since ATP provides energy for cell’s work, it can be used by the immune system and for cell repair, initiating the healing process. 

Extensive research has shown that when low-intensity laser light is utilized properly, with carefully calculated wavelengths and durations of treatment, symptom relief occurs more quickly than with common medical treatments. A recent large-scale review of studies on LLLT showed that “the utilization of LLLT for pain management and osteoarthritic conditions may be a complementary strategy used in clinical practice to provide symptom management for patients suffering from osteoarthritis and chronic pain.” 

Recently, the use of LLLT has broadened to head injuries and diseases as well, such as concussions, strokes, and traumatic brain injuries. Peak Performance Physical Therapy in Colorado Springs, owned by Melinda Couch. She and physical therapist Jeff Bickford, Feldenkrais Practitioner, have recently begun to treat these types of brain traumas in addition to the sports injuries and post-surgical healing they were already treating.

Peak Performance, currently the only practitioner of LLLT in the state of Colorado, purchased a Bioflex laser in 2015. Since the purchase, the clinic has seen a great deal of success in treatment with LLLT. Patients have healed 40 to 60 percent faster than they would have using traditional medical treatments.

One of the most exceptional examples of recovery at the local clinic is a youth volleyball player, who has been treated for a knee injury, broken nose, labral tear, and shin splints. Typically, the knee injury or labral tear would have kept her from playing competitively for six to eight months or more. However, because she started LLLT immediately after her injuries and kept up with them regularly, she was back to her high-level play within weeks. 

Other success stories include a Colorado College volleyball player with lower back pain and a broad-based disc bulge, who returned to playing after eight weeks of LLLT. Also, a 65-year-old with migraine disorder was also treated at Peak Performance; after nine weeks of LLLT treatments, she stopped experiencing migraines. Six cases of concussions have also recently been treated with LLLT at the clinic, and all cases saw a reduction of symptoms. 

The success of these local cases, along with the extensive research conducted on LLLT, show potential for this non-invasive treatment to heal people faster and better than other methods. If institutions like hospitals and universities embrace the technology, those battling injuries and diseases could be spared a lot of pain.

 

One thought on “Pain Doesn’t Have to Be the Name of the Game: Low-Level Laser Therapy Could Be the Answer

  1. Correction to the statement in the article: Peak Performance isn’t the only clinic providing LLLT or using a Class 3b laser. We are just the only clinic in Colorado at this time utilizing the Bioflex Laser Therapy system which they feel is better than a Class 3b stand alone laser. Additionally, Jeff Bickford is not a physical therapist. He is co-owner of the laser therapy business, but is not co-owner of Peak Performance Physical Therapy.

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