Laser therapy is a form of pain-relief treatment that uses light to encourage the body’s natural process of healing itself. Light, as you know, is an important part of our everyday life. There is plenty of evidence showing how light can be used to improve human health. In fact, even the ancient Egyptians used chromotherapy in their healing practices!

Modern scientific discoveries have led to a better understanding of how light can positively interact with our bodies on a biological level. For example, we’ve learned the importance of Vitamin D for our skin, bones, vision, and even our psychological states.

In the world of medicine, light-based treatments are growing in popularity – and for good reason! Therapies such as photobiomodulation have proven to provide innumerable physical benefits in a way that is drug-free and non-invasive.

Let’s take a look at what laser therapy is and how it is used when it comes to pain relief.

What is Laser Therapy?

Laser therapy refers to the application of red or near-infrared light to facilitate soft tissue healing, the reduction of inflammation, and pain relief in a way that is non-toxic and non-invasive.

The technical term for this procedure is photobiomodulation therapy and it is a form of light therapy that uses non-ionizing light sources (such as lasers, diodes, and broadband light) along with a near-infrared electromagnetic spectrum.

It is a non-thermal process which means the laser does not produce heat but can create a cellular response that can positively impact impaired and dysfunctional tissue.

In order for photobiomodulation (PBM) to occur, light has to reach the mitochondria within the damaged tissue. In order to maximize the light that reaches the tissue, light wavelength and power are important along with minimizing unwanted absorption and reducing reflections.

How Does Laser Therapy Work?

PBM laser therapy involves LEDs and class 3b lasers that do not damage tissue while stimulating healing. You may feel a slight tingle when used over dark hair follicles or dark skin but there is no pain or damage involved.

Photobiomodulation stimulates the chromophores found in every cell of your body. These enzymes respond to light and release nitric oxide when activated.

When the cells in your body undergo stress (such as from smoking, eating too much sugar, getting too much sun, an injury, etc.), there is an increase in free radical production – specifically, nitric oxide. This decreases the space for oxygen to attach to your cells so they are unable to produce the right amount of ATP (an organic compound that provides energy to your cells) so it releases more harmful free radicals. Nitric oxide allows the mitochondria to take in oxygen and create energy, which encourages damaged tissue to heal, improves circulation, and stimulates the lymphatic system.

River Stone Wellness uses both the handheld Thor lasers and Alberta’s only full-body medical light pod for laser therapy. The method of therapy depends entirely on your unique needs. Our team is highly trained to offer the PBM procedure and has a deep knowledge of the science so that you can enjoy the benefits of non-invasive and drug-free pain relief!

What Conditions Can Laser Therapy Treat?

Physical therapist treats female patient's shoulder with a laser therapy wand

Photobiomodulation therapy can address a variety of ailments including musculoskeletal injuries, stroke, concussion, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, and more. When it comes to dealing with pain, laser therapy can address a number of underlying conditions that can lead to acute or chronic pain and discomfort.

Pain Relief

The lasers used in PBM therapy decrease nerve sensitivity by decreasing a pain-eliciting chemical known as bradykinin. It also helps to release endorphins that work as your body’s natural pain reliever as well as block pain on certain nerve fibres.

Reduced Inflammation and Healing

This type of laser therapy increases the energy stored in your body to accelerate the repair process of the cell. It safely widens your arteries and veins surrounding the injury to help remove damaged cells and increase the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the area. Some molecules that increase inflammation are also reduced to facilitate rapid healing.

Tissue Repair and Cell Growth

The photons of light from the PBM laser can penetrate deeply into tissue and speed up the reproduction and growth of cells such as those found in tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. This helps damaged areas repair more quickly.

Resolving Trigger Points

Laser therapy is effective in addressing and extinguishing painful trigger points and stimulating acupuncture points without the discomfort of needling.

Accelerated Wound Healing

Laser light therapy stimulates collagen, a protein essential in replacing old tissue and repairing injuries. For this reason, PBM therapy works on open wounds and burns to promote healing.

Sports Injuries

Because PBM is highly effective for pain relief and inflammation, it is used as an effective treatment for sports injuries such as damaged muscles and tissues as well as mild traumatic brain injuries.

Who is Laser Therapy Good For?

Laser therapy is safe for patients of all ages. Because there are no side effects associated with laser therapy, it is an appropriate treatment for patients suffering from a wide range of injuries and ailments. However, there are some areas of the body where laser therapy is not recommended, such as around the eyes or near your thyroid gland. An LED light instead of a laser may be used around the eye and thyroid. You should always let your physiotherapist or chiropractor know what medications you are taking as they could be affected by the treatment.

Anyone can benefit from photobiomodulation, especially if you suffer from headaches, joint and muscle pain, lower back pain, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, or chronic pain.  PBM can quickly ease your pain, speed up your recovery, and improve your quality of life!

Photobiomodulation for Pain

If you’re dealing with an injury or chronic pain, the discomfort does not have to become a way of life! Laser therapy is a safe and effective way to help your body heal without invasive surgeries or medications.

Are you ready to get started? Contact River Stone Wellness today and begin your journey to healing. Book an appointment online or come visit us at our Physiotherapy Edmonton clinic.