Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is a form of treatment used in alternative medicine that utilizes a laser to a specific area to reduce pain, improve tissue repair and decrease inflammation. This method is an alternative that has been studied and utilized in place of the management of pain with pharmacological medications taken by mouth such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen and opiates. The LLLT sessions take about 10 minutes and can be applied to a specific area twice a week. It can be used in combination with other modalities and can be part of a specific treatment plan for pain management.
Low level laser therapy has been found to have benefits of pain relief as well as increase in function and exercise tolerance once treatment is complete. The actual mechanism of action is not well understood and several theories exist. Results from several studies reveal an increase in endorphin production; a hormone that is responsible for a “feel good effect”, a mimic of the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs has also been discovered. It is clearly stated that an analgesic effect is present. Data has also shown that LLLT increases nitric oxide that directly results in increased blood flow and tissue healing.
Studies have been performed and include patients suffering from both acute and chronic pain with a diverse variety of diagnoses. Acute pain is pain that occurs and lasts less than 6 months, Chronic pain continues and is present for greater than 6 months. The diagnosis studied include acute and chronic nonspecific low back pain, myofascial trigger points, Achilles tendonitis and other painful musculoskeletal conditions as well as fibromyalgia syndrome. These conditions not only cause pain but also result in a decrease in activity and function.
Chronic low back pain contributes to high medical expenses, increased missed work days and even disability claims. Myofascial trigger points are the “knots” that are felt in the back and other muscle groups. Achilles tendonitis not only causes pain with every step taken but also causes stiffness and decreased ankle mobility. Fibromyalgia pain can be present in every joint and can completely alter daily activity and lifestyle.
Treatment for nonspecific low back pain had a moderate evidence of benefit in short term treatment. There was also moderate evidence in treatment of Achilles tendonitis resulting in decrease in pain and stiffness. Strong evidence was found as a multimodal treatment in pain relief for myofascial trigger points. A recent study that included patients with knee pain reported not only a decrease in pain but an increase in function as well.
Low level laser therapy has been studied and proven to be a beneficial non-pharmacological alternative to care that can both decrease pain and increase function. It can be valuable in providing relief to individuals that suffer from pain due to a variety of conditions that are causing the pain. Including LLLT as a part of a treatment plan that includes other modalities of treatment for your specific pain is available at our facility. A consultation and exam can be performed and a treatment plan that includes LLLT can be incorporated into your specific game plan.