If you follow our blogs, you have probably seen a few on the subject of laser therapy. With people becoming more involved in their health and searching for alternative/non-invasive treatment options, laser therapy is increasing in popularity. More and more clinics, athletic programs at both the collegiate & professional levels, and health professionals offer, or recommend, laser therapy as part of their treatment program.
Since we first started using the laser within our clinic, we have collected the most commonly asked questions about the new treatment method. It seems that as technology advances, the amount of information shared on the internet about the new technologies can cause some confusion - and rightfully so! So what are people asking about the laser?
(If you are looking for more in-depth information about laser treatment, we have provided a number of different resources at the bottom of this article.)
What is Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy is a form of PBM therapy (photobiomodulation therapy). PBM therapy is defined by the NCBI-PMC in an article for the US National Library of Medicine as “a form of light therapy that utilizes non-ionizing forms of light sources, including lasers, LEDs, and broadband light, in the visible and infrared spectrum. It is a nonthermal process involving endogenous chromophores eliciting photophysical and photochemical events at various biological scales. This process results in beneficial therapeutic outcomes including but not limited to the alleviation of pain or inflammation, immunomodulation, and promotion of wound healing and tissue regeneration." In short, laser therapy utilizes light wavelengths that stimulate tissues and damaged cells to regenerate; accelerating the body’s own natural healing process through photo-bio-stimulation.
Is there a difference between cold laser therapy and deep tissue laser therapy?
Yes! There are similarities and imperative differences between the two types of laser therapies. Let’s break it down in simple terms. Do you want an iPhone from 2007? Or an iPhone from 2018? Both will text and make phone calls, but the 2007 model will have less features, will be as slower, less efficient and not as compatible for current day uses. The 2018 model will work much better for many categorical reasons.
The same is with cold laser & deep tissue laser therapy. “Cold Laser Therapy is considered to be an outdated therapy and references all Level II and III lasers. These lasers are not strong enough to create heat on the surface of the skin and are not near as effective as Level IV lasers. Deep Tissue Laser Therapy references all Level IV Lasers; which are more powerful with a higher wattage. This means that they are more effective because they can reach deeper, specific tissues, in a shorter amount of time. These lasers are powerful enough to create heat on the surface of the skin.” Here at Envision Sport RSM, we use a Level IV, deep tissue laser therapy called LightForce, by LiteCure.
Is laser therapy FDA approved?
The deep tissue laser therapy device that we use in our clinic is called LightForce, made by LiteCure, and it is FDA cleared. This FDA clearance allows people to utilize a noninvasive treatment instead of jumping straight into pharmaceuticals and surgery.
Who should avoid Laser Therapy?
Like most treatment options or procedures, it is important to consult with your trusted physician or physical therapist before starting treatment. This can help you, as your own health advocate, determine if this is a viable option for you and the condition you are looking to treat.
Some of the most common reasons NOT to partake in laser therapy (or contraindications) include: the presence of a pacemaker, other implanted devices, pregnancy, cancer, medications that increase sensitivity to light, or a steroid injection within the same week as laser treatment. Typically, modern metal implants, plates, and screws are not an issue. However, it is not advised to have laser therapy treatment in an area with older tattoos or shrapnel. Again, it is imperative to consult with your PT or physician to determine if laser therapy is right for you.
Who could benefit from Laser Therapy?
Most acute or chronic painful conditions can be treated and alleviated through deep tissue laser therapy. For acute injuries, the sooner deep tissue laser therapy is applied for treatment, the more effectively you can speed up the healing the process. For chronic conditions it is more used to combat, or manage, persistent pain and inflammation. From sprains, tears, deep bruising, and more, this could be a viable option for many people.
How long has laser therapy been used for?
Light therapy, or heliotherapy, has in fact been used for thousands of years. In regards to more modern phototherapy we can look back to 1903 when Dr. Niels Finsen, “the father of modern phototherapy and devices," received a Nobel Peace Prize for his “chemical rays” lamp. Laser therapy as we know it today has been used in the U.S. since the early 1960’s, but advancements have made leaps in bounds since then. LiteCure, who manufactures the laser device that we use at Envision Sport, has been a company since 2006 and has over 10 years of state-of-the-art laser development and manufacturing.
How long is laser therapy treatment?
A treatment session is only about 5-10 minutes long. It all depends on the size, depth, severity of the injury, or inflamed area, and whether or not this is an acute, or chronic issue that is being treated.
How many sessions are required?
This, too, depends on the size, depth, severity of the injury, or inflamed area, and whether or not this is an acute or chronic issue being treated. A patient could possibly only need as little as 1 treatment.
Before starting treatment, our physical therapists will sit down with you to go over your medical history and find out more about the injury you are seeking treatment for. If you are an appropriate candidate for laser therapy, they will guide you as to how many treatments you will need.
How quickly will I see results?
Most patients see results after 3-5 treatment sessions. Again, depending on all of the variables it could be more or less.
Is laser therapy covered by insurance?
Insurance companies are not currently covering laser therapy, but advancements are being made in this area. Hopefully, overtime more and more insurance companies start covering this type of therapy.
What are the benefits of using laser therapy?
Perhaps the biggest benefit of deep tissue laser therapy is that it is a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical option for treatment. It is a quick and easy treatment that has helped many people reduce pain, inflammation and even speed up the healing and recovery process for many people.
Have additional questions about laser therapy that weren’t answered above? We’d love to help! If you are interested in scheduling a laser therapy consultation or want to talk with one of our therapists, contact our office at (949) 713-6445.
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