For most people, laser therapy means…well…nothing. Eye surgery and hair removal may come to one’s mind but that is not the type of laser that we practice at our centres. What we are referring to, are lasers that are used on a therapeutic level, to aid the bodies normal healing response. This technology has been jumping forward over the past few years and a whole new class of lasers have emerged which will soon be at the forefront of the therapeutic world.
Let’s start with what ‘LASER‘ stands for. ‘Light Amplification of Stimulated Emissions of Radiation’. Make sense? Probably not. The basics of lasers are that they produce wavelengths of light and emit them. They start off with weak light and gradually add more and more energy until the wavelengths are concentrated. A true laser will produce exact wavelengths of light that all travel in one direction and are coherent (instep with one another). As opposed to a flashlight, where the light is incoherent and the wavelengths are out of step with one another, the coherency of lasers is what makes the laser light such a concentrated emission of energy. Lasers can be focused onto a small spot from a much farther distance, as could a flashlight which would spread out the wavelengths it emits. This makes lasers great for being able to narrow in on specific areas we would like to treat.
So what is it good for?
Science has determined that the mitochondria of our cells respond to certain wavelengths of light within the red and infrared category (600-1000nm). As you may recall from grade 12 cell biology, the mitochondria is the energy producing engine of the cell. Every cell has many mitochondria and nerve tissue has the most. We tend to deplete the numbers of mitochondria per cell as we age, hence part of the reason we heal slower as we get older.
Light energy from the laser is converted to chemical energy in the mitochondria, as the laser stimulates it. If a cell is injured, in theory, any cell (muscle, nerve, bone), should be able to heal quicker if it is activated and stimulated with therapeutic laser light from class 3 & 4 lasers. Now you get it!
Now what is Laser Class?
Therapeutic lasers have classes and are typically found in Class 3b & Class 4. The difference in class has to do with the power. Class 4 lasers have a higher power than Class 3. The more powerful the laser, the quicker the tissue can be saturated with light energy. However, it does not necessarily mean that the light penetrates deeper. The depth of penetration is more complex and has a lot to do with the actual wavelength of the light.
How deep does the laser light penetrate?
Most would agree that a true laser light, can penetrate approximately 2-3 inches. This is typically enough for really most problems.
Luckily, therapeutic lasers pose very little risk. Eyes are the most obvious and goggles are typically worn during treatment. Some patients experience warmth, a dull ache and nerve numbness and tingling when treating an injured nerve. Most feel very little while being treated and rarely have an increased soreness in the area treated. Overall, laser therapy is very straightforward and can be used for so many conditions. Our focus is on the neuro-musculo-skeletal system both from a pain management perspective, as well as from a healing/resolution standpoint.
Key conditions laser therapy may help:
1. Tendonitis ie. tennis elbow, achilles tendons
2. Knee Injuries ie. meniscus tear, ligament sprains/tears, arthritis
4. Plantar Fasciitis
5. Low Back ie. strains/sprains, disc injury, degeneration, sciatica
Now that you understand Laser Therapy, we would love to show you how it may be helpful for you and your condition.