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Laser Therapy + Physical Therapy = Perfect Treatment Pairing

December 04, 2018 in Articles, News
Posted by John Fainsan
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Lasers have been around since the 1960's when Sci-Fi movie directors realized its potential for visual effects. Eventually its use spilled over into other fields, including medicine and rehabilitation, and it became a powerful tool for recovery and healing. Low level lasers have been used to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions, and over the course of 10 years, the strength and focus of lasers has grown exponentially. Known as 'deep tissue lasers', or Class IV lasers, this modality has revolutionized therapeutic laser treatments, providing pain relief and healing to patients.

WHAT IS LASER THERAPY?

Laser therapy is a non-invasive technique that utilizes a therapeutic dose of light to promote cellular healing and decrease inflammation. It provides a deeper, more targeted effect that reduces pain and restores normal range of motion to the dysfunctional area. This lasting pain relief treatment has been cleared by the FDA since 2003 and offers a safe alternative to medicine and surgery.

HOW DO LASERS WORK?

Lasers work through a process called photobiomodulation where light energy can change and affect processes that happen at the cellular level in the human body. In this case, light energy stimulates cellular metabolism to encourage growth of new cells and facilitate the healing of damaged cells.

Laser light affects the body in a few ways:
  1. Light energy is absorbed by melanin (skin pigment), hemoglobin (a blood protein responsible for transporting oxygen), and water. This energy is dissipated as heat, which creates a soothing warmth. This soothing warmth creates a relaxing feeling in patients.
  2. Light energy increases the production of ATP in the mitochondria (powerhouse of the cell) so more energy is available for biological processes including healing. 
  3. Light energy facilitates the release of nitric oxide which improves circulation to damaged tissue. This allows for better oxygen exchange, better nutrient exchange, and removal of wastes.
  4. Light energy releases important chemicals that regulate inflammation.
laser therapy + physical therapy = perfect treatment pairing

While laser therapy benefits patients with chronic or acute pain, the underlying cause of pain is often remote from the source. For this reason, laser therapy is used as a powerful complement to existing physical therapy treatments. It can be used before or after surgical procedures and in conjunction with rehabilitation programs. Patients experience a warm, therapeutic sensation and a reduction in pain immediately following treatment which allows them to better perform their physical therapy exercises and daily activities. Four to six sessions are often recommended for patients to experience the true benefit of laser therapy.

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John Fainsan

Physical Therapist

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