There are a variety of therapeutic modalities that are used to help reduce pain or inflammation or to enhance tissue regeneration in the promotion of healing of musculoskeletal pathologies. The scientific evidence-based conclusions for the use of Low Level Laser (Light) Therapy (LLLT) have shown in numerous peer review journal study articles to support its use for pain management (both nociceptive and neuropathic types of pain), reduction in inflammation and edema, and to promote tissue healing for a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. Further, these beneficial therapeutic effects are delivered without the many potential side-effects of traditional therapies used to treat pain and inflammation.
The effect of the LLLT, also known as Photobiomodulation, is photochemical not thermal. The application of the low level light therapy (power range of 10m W-500m W, wavelength 660nm-905nm) has the ability to penetrate skin, and soft/hard tissues and stimulates biochemical changes within the cells of the affected tissues that reduce pain signaling and inflammation and stimulate the release of growth factors associated with tissue repair, proliferation and healing. The power density (irradiance) is typically between 5 W/cm2 and is applied to the site of an injury or pain for 30-60 seconds a few times a week for up to several weeks depending in the type and extent of pathology. The primary clinical targets for LLLT are:
Application of LLLT with a laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) that emits a divergent beam (not focused) is indicated for use in the treatment of acute (lasts less than 30 days) and chronic (lasts more than six months “or” is pain that continues beyond the expected period of healing) pain associated with:
LLLT therapy is most effective when used as an adjunct therapy with other physical therapy therapeutic interventions.
Safety and Contraindications for Laser Therapy
The North American Association for Laser Therapy gives these main recommendations for precaution and contraindication in the use of laser or LLLT Therapy:
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