What is Cold Laser Therapy?

Cold Laser Therapy is a colloquial term for photobiomodulation or Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT).

It is a light therapy using lasers or LEDs to improve tissue repair, reduce pain and inflammation wherever the beam is applied. Usually applied by a doctor, therapist or technician, treatments take about 10 minutes and should be applied two or more times a week.

Cold Laser has been used for many years on sports injuries, arthritic joints, neuropathic pain syndromes, back and neck pain. Over 300 randomised clinical trials have been published on Cold Laser, half of which are on pain.

Cold Laser for healing and pain relief

There is substantial clinical evidence published in peer reviewed medical journals that laser therapy (LLLT) can stimulate repair of tissue, reduce inflammation and relieve pain in musculoskeletal disorders.

The three main areas with good evidence are:

  • Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Joint conditions
  • Back and Neck Pain

Other applications such as shingles, post operative pain, also respond well.

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How LLLT / cold laser therapy works

Light can stimulate or inhibit cellular function according to it’s intensity and the time applied.

Lasers and LED’s produce intense beams of light at specific wavelengths. When the right wavelength at the right intensity is used at the correct anatomical location for the right amount of time you can stimulate repair, resolve inflammation and reduce pain.

One of the primary mechanisms is the effect of light on cytochrome c oxidase and the consequently the unbinding of nitric oxide and release of ATP leading to improved cellular function. For anti-inflammatory effects we have found a measurable reduction in PGE2, TNF Alpha and IL-6 in the synovia surrounding damaged tendons and for analgesia high intensity lasers over nerve supply can inhibit fast axonal flow.

In addition, high intensity single point lasers can release trigger points and treat acupuncture points instead of needles.

In the last 8 years seven systematic reviews have found in favour of LLLT

  • BMJ LLLT for chronic non-specific low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials found “moderate quality of evidence” and “clinically important benefits” in the short term. (2016) Click here
  • BMJ sports medicine journal, systematic review of surgical and conservative interventions for frozen shoulder found “strong evidence” for LLLT. (2010) Click here
  • The International Association for the Study of Pain (Global Task force on musculoskeletal pain) found “strong evidence” for Low Level Laser Therapy on myofascial pain syndrome. (2010) Click here
  • The BMJ clinical evidence recommendations for tennis elbow 2011 now include LLLT click here
  • American Physical Therapy Association guidelines recommend LLLT for Achilles tendonitis. (2010) Click here
  • Lancet systematic review: “LLLT reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain”. (2009) Click here
  • World Health Organisation (Bone and Joint Task Force) for neck pain Low Level Laser Therapy “more effective than no treatment, sham, or alternative interventions” (2008) Click here

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