Laser Therapy - Friend or Pho(ton)?
Spring is here! With the arrival of beautiful weather people are once again getting active outdoors. Since last year was a doozy and many of us struggled to maintain our exercise routines (myself included), this year’s increase in activity may reveal some new aches and pains—or, for that matter, some of the old pesky injuries we thought we had resolved. As we start to run again, we might feel that Achilles Tendon talking to us after the first mile. Or we may be ready to play 18 holes only to be reminded about that old elbow injury after warming up at the driving range. Does this sound like I’m talking directly to you? If so, class IV laser therapy may be an excellent option to speed up healing times on injuries to help get you back to doing what you love.
What is class IV laser and how does it work? Class IV laser therapy is a non-pharmacological device designed to help speed up healing times in musculoskeletal injuries. When the laser is applied to an area, energy invisible to the eye is transferred from the laser into the cells of the target area. Once in the cells, the energy activates an array of compounds which then increases metabolic activity. Two areas largely targeted by the laser are hemoglobin and mitochondria, which then allow the cells better oxygen uptake and energy output. The laser does not target the specific injury directly. Rather, it stimulates the body’s natural repair mechanisms to help speed up healing.
You might be asking yourself:
Is laser therapy safe? Yes! The FDA approved class IV laser therapy in 2003 for musculoskeletal injuries. With that said, patients who are pregnant or undergoing cancer treatment are not recommended for this treatment. During laser treatment, both the practitioner and patient will wear safety glasses for protection.
Does it hurt? No. Typically patients feel the treatment area warming up as the laser is on the target site. If the spot becomes too warm, we simply lower the output of the laser or spread out the focal point. It is not advised in areas with dark pigmented tattoo ink because the energy from the laser may excite the pigment and create a hot sensation.
How long do sessions take? A typical session lasts between 5-15 minutes depending on the size of injury zone and the number of regions undergoing treatment.
How many sessions do I need? This varies greatly from patient to patient. An exam with one of our practitioners will help dictate treatment frequency but typically patients begin to feel results within 3-6 visits.
Can I do laser treatment the same day as a chiropractic session? Absolutely! It is recommended to schedule in advance just like a chiropractic session. If you forget to call ahead just ask us when you arrive at the office and we will be happy to accommodate.
Alright, now who is ready to go hit par for the course, finally get their bike off their trainer, or lace up those new running shoes you’ve been dying to try out?! Remember, your team at Washington Park Chiropractic is here to provide comprehensive care to the proactive and health-conscious community of Denver. Let us help you live your best life.
Mark Perez, DC, DNS, FDM, SFMA is a sports chiropractor practicing at Washington Park Chiropractic. He enjoys incorporating chiropractic adjustments along with myofascial work and rehab to optimize a patient’s healing time. His passion is getting patients out of pain and back to doing what they love.