by Kristy Donnelly, D.C.
Deep tissue laser therapy is another service offered by Absolute Injury and Pain Physicians.
Depending on the condition being treated, laser therapy procedure lasts from 5 to 10 minutes. The laser is applied directly to the patient’s skin where the photons emitted by the laser reflect, scatter, and absorb into damaged tissue. This stimulates cellular metabolism to accelerate the healing process. It is effective in treating a variety of pain conditions, both acute and chronic.
Pain lasers operate in the 650-1300 nanometer spectrum, which means that they are able to penetrate deep tissue structures while still being a safe, non-invasive procedure to help reduce pain and inflammation. It has been cleared by the FDA and helps us offer our patients an alternative to drugs and/or surgery.
Most patients see results within 3-5 treatments. During treatment, patients will start to feel a soothing warmth, which signals the beginning of an 18-24 hour process of modulated cellular activity, leading to decrease in pain and inflammation.
In 2015, a study in the Annals of Cardiac Anesthesia proved the effectiveness of laser therapy in pain reduction by evaluating 100 patients who received laser treatment 30 minutes after surgery. Normally, the incision into the sternum is so painful that patients need oral and/or injectable opioids, but after only one laser treatment, 60% of patients reported pain levels lower than 5 out of 10 at 24 hours after treatment. The participants received up to three treatments, and by the third day after surgery, no opioid analgesia was needed by any of them.
The Journal of Sport Physical Therapy (JOSPT) has endorsed laser therapy through randomized double blind studies that have proven low level laser therapy is successful in treating both musculoskeletal neck pain as well as neck pain caused by osteoarthritis. It was found to be an effective treatment for use in treating chronic neck pain with mobility deficits and acute neck pain with radiating symptoms.
Laser therapy has been used to treat a variety of injuries and body parts for decades with nearly no side effects. Each treatment takes around 10 minutes to complete and can be combined with other therapies. Acute conditions require more treatments and can even be done multiple days in a row but more chronic injuries can be spaced a few days apart. Many people experience symptom relief after the first treatment, but some may need 3 or 4 treatments to begin noticing a difference. Each treatment is cumulative, so even if pain relief isn’t immediate, the laser is still creating an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms and stiffness.