Picture this: you are a hockey player and you have 1.5 weeks to be ready to play in a tournament. You are practicing hard and pull a groin muscle. Will you recover in time to play? Or, are you struggling with chronic pain in your wrists and hands that is hampering your everyday life and enjoyment of hobbies? Maybe you have tried specific exercises, medications or various therapies to find some healing for a painful condition without much success. Maybe you have never heard of Low Level Laser Therapy (or LLLT also known as Cold Laser or Phototherapy) as an option for healing.
Let me share a personal testimony of the positive effects of LLLT that still has me amazed.
About 6 months ago I was shifting and loading moving boxes in my car. I miss-stepped off a curb and rolled my ankle. I felt the crunch and succumbed to the pain relief provided by my body’s shock response. I denied that I had done any damage as it didn’t hurt and because I needed to get the job done rather than taking a rest and putting ice on my injury. At 4:00 a.m. the next day I awoke in tears with the pain and swelling of my ankle and discovered I could hardly put weight on it. How was I going to lead the moving crew that day? Being a LLLT practitioner, I decided to go laser my ankle early in the morning. Within two hours I was bearing weight well. Late afternoon I lasered again. That evening I was wondering if I had even sprained my ankle the day before. There was minimal swelling and I didn’t feel pain unless I pushed my range of motion to its limits. It seemed almost miraculous.
Lasers specifically for healing of the body have been under development since about 1968 when Endre Mester determined through a study that low level laser irradiation did not cause cancer in mice and that the hair on the mice that were treated with laser grew back 50 per cent faster than the mice who were not treated. Let’s explore how and why this light works beneficially in the body.
Wavelength: This is probably the most important factor in a therapeutic laser. Out of the entire spectrum of light, there is a fairly narrow window of light that has therapeutic effect on the cells of the body. 650nm (which is in the visible red spectrum), through to 905 nm (which is in the near infrared range) have proven to be most effective with 905nm achieving the deepest penetration into the tissue.
Source: Comparing an incandescent light with a laser would be like comparing a crowd of people all wearing different outfits walking about in a city square versus a well-trained army marching in uniformed formation in a parade. Lasers are specifically designed to be a monochromatic and coherent light source. This means that the light they emit is all one colour and all travelling in exactly the same direction in a very organized way. These specific properties of laser light allow for the depth of penetration as well as the specificity of wavelength for effective therapy which would not be able to be achieved with other light sources.
Power: Therapeutic lasers used in LLLT, are in the classification of IIIB. This means they are stronger than laser pointers and checkout scanners but less powerful than the highly restricted surgical or industrial lasers for cutting and cauterizing. There is little to no thermal effect when used properly. With the combination of 660nm/905nm wavelength and the superpulsed laser technology it is possible to provide healing support to tissues up to four inches deep in the body.
How LLLT works
LLLT provides patients with effective, safe, and painless therapy that uses the body’s own natural healing systems to heal tissue, resolve inflammation and relieve pain. The treatment provides easily absorbable energy at a cellular level that each cell can convert into chemical energy to use as needed. Our bodies are wired with the blueprint and ability to heal. Often times, an area of injury or chronic pain just isn’t healing because it is missing a necessary component to do so and is severely depleted energetically from trying to heal. LLLT provides an infusion of usable energy which the body can direct in any way it is needed.
In the case of the hockey player who is generally in good shape and healthy and has this acute injury, when LLLT is applied the healing usually takes place really quickly, often within four to six treatments. Chronic pain and older issues of inflammation and discomfort often take significantly longer to heal yet the body is capable of much more than we realize when the right building blocks and support is provided.
Mary Garvin: After pursuing biology and outdoor education in university, Mary followed her passion for natural healing methods. She trained and practiced as a licensed massage therapist for seven years abroad and brings her years of massage knowledge to direct her in the effective application of LLLT at Smiths Falls Family Chiropractic.
This article first appeared in the July issue of Hometown News. Read more of the July issue in our digital version.