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  • Dr Ashleigh Bhanjan

What is Cold Laser Therapy ?

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

What exactly is cold laser therapy and how does it work?

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at this emerging medical technology and explore how it may offer an innovative approach to treating a variety of conditions.

 

Introduction to Cold Laser Therapy


Cold laser therapy is also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) and is a non-invasive therapeutic treatment that applies low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to stimulate healing and reduce inflammation and pain.

Unlike surgery or medication, cold laser therapy offers a non-invasive and non-addicting option that eliminates the well known side effects associated with long-term medication use.

The treatment method is called “cold” laser therapy because the energy level of light used is not enough to heat your body’s tissue. This is why LEDs can also be used as they don’t cause heating. This light energy passes through the skin into deeper injured or inflamed tissues and stimulates cellular activity that assists with tissue repair as well as releasing nitric oxide that increases circulation.


 

How Does Cold Laser Therapy Work?


Cold laser therapy works by using low levels of light energy (photons) of specific wavelengths that are absorbed into the body and stimulate cellular activity in injured tissues in the targeted area. This increased cellular activity promotes tissue repair and regeneration, increases collagen secretion and decreases active inflammation.

The light energy stimulates the production of ATP (energy source of cells) in cells that are metabolically impaired due to injury and inflammation. As ATP energy levels increase, the cells and tissues respond by increasing their capacity for repair and regeneration.






Cold laser therapy is able to target specific regions of the body when applied directly to the skin over the injured or diseased area making it a highly effective form of therapy. It is often used in conjunction with other treatments to help with a wide range of conditions that cause pain, inflammation, and tissue damage.

The benefits of cold laser therapy are numerous, and it is a highly effective and non-invasive option for many individuals seeking relief from a variety of conditions.


 

Cold laser therapy uses low-level light energy to stimulate healing and reduce pain


The procedure involves irradiating specific wavelengths and dosages of light energy which penetrate the skin and to affect the cellular activity of deeper injured tissues. The light energy can also improve circulation which promotes decreased swelling as well as tissue repair. The light energy is also absorbed by white blood cells in your blood leading to decreased inflammation and pain.


This light penetrates the skin and stimulates cellular activity

As mentioned in the previous section, cold laser therapy works by stimulating cellular activity. When red and near infrared wavelengths of the light energy penetrates the skin, it interacts with the cells and triggers a photochemical reaction similar to photosynthesis in which the sun’s energy is absorbed by chlorophyll in plants resulting in growth.

Whether you’re dealing with a sports injury or chronic pain, cold laser therapy can help kickstart your body’s natural healing process.


The increased cellular activity can improve circulation and help with tissue repair


As previously mentioned, the low-level energy from cold laser therapy stimulates cellular activity, which can lead to improved circulation and tissue repair. By increasing cell replication and circulation, this therapy promotes the regeneration of damaged tissue and the reduction of inflammation. Improved circulation can bring vital nutrients and oxygen to the affected area, aiding in the healing process.

This therapy has shown promising results in reducing pain and accelerating wound healing. Reducing scar tissue and improving joint mobility and muscle strength are significant benefits that have led many physiotherapists, chiropractors, and health care professionals to include this FDA and Health Canada approved treatment in their practice.

The increased cellular activity from cold laser therapy offers a safe and effective option for those looking to alleviate pain and promote healing.


 

Benefits of Cold Laser Therapy

Patients may find relief from various conditions, including knee pain from osteoarthritis, low back pain, rotator cuff tendonitis and other injuries and degenerative joint disorders. Overall, cold laser therapy offers a natural and effective option for tissue repair and pain relief.


Increases tissue regeneration and healing

The cold laser therapy process encourages growth and repair of injured joints, muscles, ligaments, cartilage and tendons and enhances the elasticity of the tissue. This increased cellular activity also aids in the regeneration of damaged nerves, making it an effective treatment option for both acute and chronic pain.

Because cold laser therapy works by accelerating the body’s natural healing process, there are fewer risks and side effects associated with this treatment compared to other invasive medical procedures and medication.

Patients who undergo cold laser therapy can experience a reduction in pain and inflammation, while also promoting the growth of healthy tissue to improve overall health and wellness.


 

Conditions Treated with Cold Laser Therapy


Cold laser therapy can be beneficial for a variety of conditions including minor injuries such as ligament sprains, muscle strains, bursitis, tendonitis, and postoperative recovery.

It may also aid in the relief of pain caused by conditions like arthritis, degenerative disc disease, tendinopathies, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, neuralgias, migraines, TMJ disorder and many more. Additionally, cold laser therapy can be very helpful in wound healing. It has also been used to treat Bell’s palsy, a condition that causes muscle weakness on one side of the face.

Red light, along with infrared light wavelengths, can penetrate from the skin and deep into the tissues stimulating cell growth and boosting impaired cell production, resulting in improved healing, decreased recovery time and overall pain relief.




 

Cold Laser Therapy vs High-Intensity Lasers


When comparing cold laser therapy to high-intensity lasers, it is important to note that the two techniques have different levels of power and mechanisms of action.

Cold laser therapy, which uses low-level light energy, is often used to relieve pain and promote healing while high-intensity lasers are much more powerful and produce intense heat used for issues like tattoo and hair removal and skin ablation or even surgery. The use of high power Class 4 lasers can be used to temporarily block pain but do not promote healing and anti-inflammatory effects.




High-intensity lasers are more expensive and come with greater risks including burning tissues and damaging eyes. Ultimately, the choice between cold laser therapy and high-intensity Class 4 lasers depends on the specific goals of the patient such as healing vs short term pain relief.


 

Scientific Evidence Supporting Cold Laser Therapy


Scientific evidence strongly supports the use of cold laser therapy as a safe and effective treatment for various conditions.

Hundreds of peer reviewed randomized clinical trials have shown that cold laser therapy can reduce inflammation and pain, promote recovery from injuries and pain as well as improve muscle recovery.

It provides a non-invasive and non-addictive treatment option, eliminating complications and risks associated with surgery and medication. Research studies suggest that it also promotes collagen secretion and tissue regeneration.

There is promising evidence supporting the use of cold laser therapy in pain reduction and wound healing. With its extensive history and basic science evidence, cold laser therapy is a reliable therapy that can improve quality of life and promote healing.

 

Studies on Pain Reduction


Studies have been conducted in recent years to examine the use of cold laser in reducing pain associated with various musculoskeletal conditions. As previously mentioned, cold laser therapy stimulates cellular activity which in turn triggers natural pain relief mechanisms within the body.

It has been found that cold laser therapy reduces inflammation, which is a major contributor to pain. In fact, several meta-analyses have shown that when compared to a placebo, cold laser therapy significantly reduces pain and disability.

This makes it an effective option for individuals looking to manage pain without the use of medications or invasive procedures. With the backing of scientific evidence, cold laser therapy is becoming an increasingly popular treatment option for pain management.

 

Studies on Wound Healing


Studies have shown that low level laser therapy (LLLT), may be effective in promoting wound healing. Some of the earliest applications of LLLT were in wound healing, and it has demonstrated positive results in reducing inflammation, stimulating new blood vessel growth, and improving muscle recovery.

LLLT remains a promising therapy for helping promote tissue regeneration and wound healing, and may have potential applications in a variety of conditions.


 

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