Laser Therapy for Pain
What does LASER stand for, how do they work, and why do we use them??
“Laser” stands for : Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers emit photons which penetrate through the skin and into cells. Cell receptors absorb the light energy, resulting in increased adenosine triphosphate (or ATP) production, bringing the rate of cell metabolism from a depressed rate, as is the case in damaged tissue, to a normal level. In other words, Lasers can stimulate cellular repair, including the regeneration of nerve cells. Angiogenesis and fibrous tissue reduction also occur, essential for the healing of chronic wounds.
Ultimately, the effects of laser therapy include relieving pain, resolving inflammation, and repairing tissues.
Lasers work at many different wavelengths, and optimal “Therapeutic Windows” exist for different conditions. For laser therapy to treat pain, inflammation, and arthritis, the therapeutic window is between 600nm and 1200nm. Higher watt lasers, such as our Aspen Pinnacle 60 Watt laser (980 nm), can promote greater energy transfer in a shorter period of time, which is why most treatments will last a convenient average of 5-20 minutes, depending on the condition (acute or chronic), area size, and depth of required penetration for accessing the targeted tissue structures.
What can patients expect?
Patients will feel a warm sensation while they are receiving laser therapy, and can feel immediate relief post-treatment. Daily activities can be resumed, as appropriate for their condition and as directed by their physician.
Frequency of treatment can be every day with a minimum of three times a week until resolution. Competition athletes can be treated more than once daily. Generally, a treatment “cycle” consists of 5-6 treatments, when best results can be achieved. Depending on one’s condition and whether it is acute or chronic, more than one treatment cycle may be recommended. Relief can initially last for 3-4 days post-treatment, yet this relief period typically increases as more treatments are performed. Maintenance therapy for athletes and chronic pathology is suggested.
Laser therapy is a wonderful option for patients who may not be able to take certain prescription medications, engage in physical therapy, or have injection therapy. It can, however, be used in conjunction with these and other treatments.
Some Common Foot and Ankle Conditions which Laser Therapy can help include:
Arthritis pain, Swelling from trauma, Bursitis, Post-operative edema and pain (Our Aspen Pinnacle 60 Watt Laser can be used on patients with metal implants, including foot and ankle hardware), Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, Gout, Neuropathic pain/ nerve impingement syndromes, RSD, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendonitis, Psoriasis, and Eczematous Dermatitis.
Because of the regenerative properties of laser therapy, it is also used within our wound therapy protocols. Laser therapy can promote cellular oxygenation, stimulating cellular regeneration, and is especially useful in the treatment of wounds which may not have responded to other treatments.
Finally, the Aspen laser is also used to treat Onychomycosis, or Toenail Fungus. Different settings are used for this application and the number of treatments is generally two, three months apart.
Contraindications to laser therapy include: direct exposure into or over the eyes and direct applications over a gravid uterus, known cancerous tumor, or thyroid tissue.
If you have additional questions or would like to begin your laser therapy, please call our office.