We’re very lucky to own a low level laser, also known as a cold laser, at our chiropractic clinic in Woking. Low level laser therapy (LLLT) has 20 years of research investigating its use for reducing pain. It’s been proven to be effective for a range of conditions, including treatment for temporomandibular disorders (TMD), low back pain and neck pain. The advantage of having a cold laser is that it works in a completely different way to anything else that chiropractors, physiotherapists or osteopaths do.
Manual therapists often refer to their “tool box”, a metaphor for the skills and equipment that they use to treat different conditions. For example, a chiropractor might use spinal manipulation, mobilisation, massage, taping or dry needling for the treatment of low back pain. However, all of those techniques come from the same tool box. They all involve moving a muscles, joints, ligaments or cartilage, at either low speed, high speed, short amplitude or long amplitude. They work really well for most people but unfortunately not for all. That might be because the pain system has become so wound up and hypersensitive that any movement, regardless of how careful, is enough to trigger pain. In some people the lightest touch causes severe pain. In cases like this any tool from the ‘movement tool box’ isn’t going to work and might actually make things worse.
This is why having the cold laser is such a bonus. It comes from a completely different tool box. It works by providing your cells with energy which causes biochemical reactions, protein synthesis and enhanced blood flow. The result in a reduction in pain and improved function.This means that without touching or moving the injured body part we can still reduce pain. One key benefit is that there haven’t been any reported side affects which means it’s incredibly safe. However, we don’t normally use it in isolation, we combine it with other effective treatment options. The goal is not only to reduce pain and improve function but to prevent pain from returning.
Glazov, G., Yelland, M., & Emery, J. (2016). Low-level laser therapy for chronic non-specific low back pain: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society, 34(5), 328–341. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2015-011036
Xu, G. Z., Jia, J., Jin, L., Li, J. H., Wang, Z. Y., & Cao, D. Y. (2018). Low-Level Laser Therapy for Temporomandibular Disorders: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. Pain research & management, 2018, 4230583. doi:10.1155/2018/4230583
Clijsen, R., Brunner, A., Barbero, M., Clarys, P., & Taeymans, J. (2017). Effects of low-level laser therapy on pain in patients with musculoskeletal disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European journal of physical and rehabilitation medicine, 53(4), 603–610. doi:10.23736/S1973-9087.17.04432-X