High-intensity laser therapy for the relief of chronic pain
High-intensity laser therapy for the relief of chronic pain
All of us have at one point or another experienced the debilitating effects of pain in our lives. Acute or chronic pain can hamper our ability to live, love, and prosper. Any pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks is considered chronic. People with chronic pain suffer all the more as they feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel and living with their condition becomes very difficult and disheartening. So it is not only the physical pain that they deal with but there is also an emotional, social and mental aspect of living with chronic pain. Relationships may be affected and the person may experience high levels of emotional stress. This continued exposure to stress not only disrupts life during episodes of pain but in many cases outlasts the pain and becomes a health condition that needs to be managed separately. According to statistics, over 1.5 billion people, all over the world suffer from chronic pain.2 77% of people reported feeling depressed about their pain and 51% felt they had no control over their pain. Most people would be happy to use a method that is quick, non-surgical and gives them considerable relief. High-intensity laser therapy is one such technique that can revolutionize pain management.
How does high-intensity laser therapy work to relieve chronic pain?
High-intensity laser therapy (HILT) is also known as ‘hot laser therapy.’ It is a powerful laser that is 100-400 times more powerful than cold lasers. It is classified as a class IV laser and is approved by the FDA and TGA for therapeutic use. It works by penetrating deep into the inflamed tissue causing changes at the cellular level to reduce inflammation and start the healing process.
The high-intensity laser supplies a large amount of energy for a short time whereas the traditional cold laser would take too long to reach the same dose.
The laser light penetrates deep into the cells triggering a cascade of reactions that increase cellular energy, oxygen levels and the regrowth of nerves and tissues that are damaged, inflamed, or injured. This helps the cells to function in a better, stronger and healthier manner.
What does it feel like to undergo high-intensity laser therapy work for the relief of chronic pain?
The high-intensity laser is painless, non-invasive and penetrates the skin without any side effects. You only feel a sensation of warmth where the laser is directed. It is a calm, relaxing and soothing feeling.
Sometimes mild discomfort is felt over the affected area after the treatment as the laser triggers the healing response. Any discomfort is usually resolved within the next 24 hours and generally happens only during the initial few treatments. This is just a transient phase where the body’s defense mechanism is set into motion and there is mild inflammation.
How many sessions of high-intensity laser therapy do I need to be relieved of my pain?
Most patients start feeling better after one or two sessions. Usually, we start off with two treatments per week. The duration of pain relief gradually increases making it easier to space out the appointments. As usual, results vary between different patients. Few might see a great improvement in just two sessions, whereas some patients might need as many as ten sessions before they achieve long-term pain relief.
Is it safe to undergo high-intensity laser therapy for the relief of chronic pain?
High-intensity laser therapy is a unique treatment option that allows tissue healing at a cellular level without any surgical intervention. It has the ability to penetrate through bone, soft tissue, and muscle. Other than slight discomfort for some people the next day, there are no negative effects.
The only precaution that one needs to take is to wear the protective goggles as the light can be damaging to the eyes.
The purpose of using a high-intensity laser is to ensure that the patient gets relief from pain in a painless manner by healing the tissues without involving any surgery.
Many research articles vouch for the safety of high-intensity laser treatment and studies at the cellular level provide data, proving that this form of therapy really works to provide relief in various conditions that cause chronic pain. Once the pain reduces the patient also feels more relaxed.
In one study, 39 former NFL football players with arthritis underwent 1-3 sessions of high intensity laser therapy. They experienced an average of 72% pain relief. The results lasted 1-3 weeks in 64% of the players. 90% of the players reported that they would recommend high intensity laser therapy to their colleagues.1
In a study published in ‘Pain Research and Management 2016’ 72 sufferers from knee arthritis received 7 sessions of laser therpy or a sham laser. Pain scores reduced significantly in the ‘real’ laser group, but not in the ‘sham’ laser group.3
Psychologically high-intensity laser treatment benefits the patients by giving them the confidence to handle their daily life and chores more easily. Once the cycle of chronic pain is broken, pathways open up for healing and restoration of function. There may not be a permanent solution in some cases but better pain control and management is the key to better health and happiness. When the pain is under control, the patient is able to feel positive and cope better.
The revolutionary high-intensity laser therapy serves the purpose of reducing pain considerably and in a safe and effective way. This is an effective treatment option for pain sufferers, who want to avoid or prolong the need for more invasive techniques and/or surgery. It is certainly worthwhile giving it a shot at least once to feel the difference.
1: White PF, Cao X, Elvir-Lazo L, Hernandez H (2017) Effect of High-Intensity Laser Treatments on Chronic Pain Related to Osteoarthritis in Former Professional Athletes: A Case Series. J Mol Biomark Diagn 8:343. doi: 10.4172/2155-9929.1000343
3: Angelova, Anna, and Elena M. Ilieva. “Effectiveness of High Intensity Laser Therapy for Reduction of Pain in Knee Osteoarthritis.” Pain Research & Management 2016 (2016): 9163618. PMC. Web. 16 Apr. 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5206453/