Laser therapy has become one of the hottest topics among our patients who are suffering from lifestyle-impacting chronic joint pain.
Our therapists are regularly asked: “What is it? How does it work? Will it help me?”
A thorough look at the scientific studies into this treatment indicates that it can be effective in reducing those patients suffering from a variety of pain.
The official name for laser therapy is Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) but we have also heard it referred to as soft laser, cold laser and therapeutic laser. This is how it works: Low levels of laser light are directed at the painful area. The laser light stimulates cells and tissues in that area. The laser light speeds the tissue repair process.
Approved for use in 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, it was originally used on professional athletes to speed their healing process and quickly get them back in the game.
In more recent years, however, it has worked its way into mainstream medicine and can now be found in a number of physical therapy clinics. Two scientific studies in particular impacted us to add cold laser to our treatment list for joint pain. In 2003, a study by J.M. Bjordal1 and his colleagues at the University of Bergen in Norway investigated if LLLT of the joint capsule could reduce pain in chronic joint disorders. They looked into 88 randomized controlled trials, of which 20 trails included patients with chronic joint disorders.
“Low level laser therapy with the suggested dose range significantly reduces pain and improves health status in chronic joint disorders,” the researchers concluded.
In 2012, researchers H. Jang2 and H. Lee at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea investigated the clinical effectiveness of low-level laser therapy on joint pain. In all studies, the laser was irradiated on the joint area, the PEDro scale score was at least five, and the effectiveness of the trail was measured using a visual analogue scale (VAS). “The review shows that laser therapy on the joint reduces pain in patients,” they concluded.
There are many advantages to patients who undergo LLLT. It is quick and painless and there’s much to be said for that. Treatments range anywhere from two to 10 minutes with an average of about eight minutes. The patient feels little more than a gentle warmth on the area targeted. There are no surgeries or scars involved on the road to wellness, and no medications to take. Cold laser has no known serious side effects. It is flexible in that it can be used alone or together with other physical therapies.
Besides being used to treat joint pain, we have also had success using cold laser in patients suffering from chronic arthritis, tendonitis, fibromyalgia, sport injuries, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome and several other conditions.
MyoFit Clinic has the only FDA approved cold laser therapy unit in Geauga County that will deliver results fast leaving you with actual relief from your symptoms! There is no substitution for improving general mobility and strength but laser therapy is a nice complementary intervention that can deliver results FAST!
Dr. Adam M. Cramer, PT, DPT, is a licensed physical therapist, pain specialist and owner of MyoFit Clinic in Chardon & Middlefield, Ohio.
Biordal, JM, Couppe C., Chow RT, Tuner J., and Ljunggren, EA. (2003) A systematic review of low level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. The Physical Therapy Journal, 2003; 49(2): 107-16 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12775206
Jang H. and Lee H. (2012) Meta-analysis of pain relief effects by laser irradiation on joint areas. Photomed Laser Surg. 2012 Aug: 30(8): 405-17. Doi: 10.1089/pho.2012.3240. Epub 2012 June 29 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22747309