The laser advantage refers to the accelerated and/or improved healing which occurs when light energy is applied to injured tissue. Clinical experience in clinics using the Bioflex laser system consistently demonstrates accelerated healing of acute injuries or stimulation of the healing process for chronic injuries.
You might ask why the laser advantage is not a routine offering to
patients following injury.
The short answer is that very few clinics have laser units capable of providing sufficient or
appropriate laser energy. The longer answer includes: the ability to build a machine capable
of producing energy in the biostimulation range is recent; collaborative research to define best
dosage parameters is also a recent phenomenon; lasers capable of providing the optimal dosages
are expensive. Additionally, many clinicians are skeptical about the usefulness of laser therapy,
perhaps because they are unfamiliar with its current advances.
You might ask how something as nebulous as light benefits healing.
The simplest way to explain the benefits of low intensity laser is to review the electromagnetic spectrum,
the diagram that represents the energy environment which influences all life. In practical terms, we
associate ultraviolet rays with sun burn, x-rays with a diagnostic technology, and atomic rays with
bombs. Non-destructive rays are associated with longer wavelengths; e.g. sound waves enable hearing.
Within the red and near infra-red ranges, energy promotes biostimulation. In plants this is
photosynthesis. In humans, light receptors called chromophores absorb energy between 600 nm and
900 nm to support and or stimulate normal cell function. Laser light jump-starts healing!
You might ask what injury conditions respond to low intensity laser.
The short answer is all physical injuries can benefit. This includes conditions related to low back and neck pain, arthritis, sprain and strain injuries, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, tendonitis, etc. Low intensity laser is particularly beneficial in instances of multiple injuries, such as following motor vehicle accidents. It is common for there to be a delayed healing response with multiple injury sites, and laser helps boost the healing response. It is useful pre and post operatively to minimize risk of infection, the requirement for pain medication, and to speed healing response. It is effective for the pain management of gout and shingles. Some clinicians are finding it useful in the management of contusion and head trauma. The list goes on...
You might ask for what pain conditions low intensity laser is not sufficient.
While it is almost always useful to stimulate a healing response regardless of the injury, there is one big caveat. When break-down of normal movement patterns caused the injury, as is the case for repetitive strain injuries, it is not enough to resolve the pain. One must correct the faulty movement pattern that caused the injury in the first place or risk re-injury. The human body is tolerant of great abuse as it relates to positions, postures, sports and work demands. We can look around, see faulty posture everywhere and wonder how people can be so crooked, yet have no pain. Then there is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’, after which no treatment can be effective until the underlying position or movement fault is corrected. Within a physiotherapy clinic, a great number of our clients have some degree of normal movement breakdown. In these instances, it is essential that the usefulness of low intensity laser is balanced with the requirement for normal movement. We further differentiate between exercise and correcting movement patterns.
To re-cap, low intensity laser is a drug-free modality for relieving musculo-skeletal pain, effective because it accelerates the healing response. It is most appreciated by those with chronic injury, because they know when their pain changes. Its effectiveness is most dramatic following trauma, because it significantly decreases healing time and provides for a strong mobile scar, especially important for athletes and those with physically demanding life demands.
Estelle Barry, MCISc (PT), MCPA
Avalon Laser Health