Cold Laser Therapy or otherwise known as Low level laser therapy (LLLT) refers to the utilization of low levels or low intensity of laser light in order to manage inflammation and pain. Cold laser therapy is also known as therapeutic laser, low power laser therapy, biostimulation laser, laser acupuncture or soft laser. Cold laser therapy is considered an experimental device that is used under investigation to identify its efficacy in pain relief. Cold laser therapy is also used in wound healing hence the term therapeutic laser.
The exact mechanism of cold laser therapy in instituting pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects is the use of light-emitting diodes in order to alter the cell functioning. The laser tends to reduce the level of prostaglandin E2, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin beta. There is also a reduction in the neutrophils and other granulocytes. These chemicals and cells are responsible for the inflammatory reaction and pain. Inhibiting those leads to reduction of pain and inflammation. In addition, there is also a significant reduction in bleeding, edema and oxidative stress. Aside from the effects on the inflammatory response, cold laser therapy also stimulates the mitochondrial functioning of the cells leading to increase in the production of ATP thereby improving the intracellular homeostasis and improves cellular proliferation for wound healing. This mechanism is traced to the acceptance of laser light by cytochrome c oxidase, an important enzyme in ATP production.
Cold laser therapy is administered directly on the skin in affected areas of the body. A dose of 0.3 to 19 joules per minute in every square centimeter is delivered to patients. However, the intensity, frequency and duration of treatment may vary from person to person depending on the manifestations.
Some people have criticized the effectiveness of cold laser therapy. Although there is less evidence on its efficacy, cold laser therapy has been used in the relief of pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendinopathy, neck pain, and chronic disorders of joints. Cold laser therapy may also be used in the area of surgery and dentistry in order to reduce pain such as cases of chronic periodontitis and healing of dental implants. The following discusses the most common applications of cold laser therapy:
• Neck pain treatment using cold laser therapy
A randomized controlled trial in the use of cold laser therapy in the management of neck pain has showed an immediate relief of neck pain.
• Wound healing
A study published in the American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery has revealed effectiveness of cold laser therapy in the treatment of large skin necrosis or an infected wound.
• Surgical wound healing
A study by Jackson, et al. has revealed the effectiveness of cold laser therapy in the management of the surgical site following breast augmentation. Specifically, it has showed a significant reduction in pain and the dosage of pain medication required by patients who undergone breast augmentation.
Aside from its benefits in joint and wound healing, cold laser therapy is also used in acupuncture, where the acupoints are stimulated using the laser light rather than needles. This is especially beneficial for people who wanted to try acupuncture, but are afraid of needles. This is also beneficial to smokers because it allows people to quit smoking because of the simulation of endorphins with the effects of nicotine in the brain. The advantages of cold laser therapy are vast adding to its advantage as anon-invasive therapy.