Cold laser therapy also is known as low-level laser therapy. It uses light and photon energy to stimulate cellular metabolism. Cold laser therapy is painless and non-invasive. No surgical incision is necessary. It is FDA approved as a safe therapy. The only contraindication (warning) is for use in the eye. Cold laser therapy is effective in the treatment of a variety of painful and inflamed conditions of the soft tissues and joints such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, back pain and sports-related injuries. The cold laser has the unique property of being able to penetrate up to two inches below the skin surface causing an increase in cellular metabolism and avoiding tissue damage. Cold laser therapy is a non-invasive procedure, meaning that it does not require a surgical incision. This means that there is no prolonged recovery time.
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Cold laser therapy does not involve taking any medications which many patients prefer to avoid. Studies have demonstrated that there are no serious adverse events when used appropriately by a medical doctor. Laser beams are used to relieve inflammation and pain. The intensity of the laser beams is low and the area to be treated is exposed to the laser beams for a specific period and interval.
The term 'cold' does not mean that the temperature of the laser is low. Rather it means that the intensity of the laser is low as compared to the high-intensity ones which may cause skin burns.
When calibrated to a certain wavelength, lasers have the potential to stimulate the damaged cells of the body. This results in progressed healing as well as a reduction in pain and inflammation. Cold laser therapy can accelerate the strength, speed, and quality of repair of damaged tissues. The result is an increase in the supply of blood to the affected area to begin the healing process.
Cold laser therapy usually takes 10 to 30 treatments depending on the condition being treated. Treatments usually require 2 to 4 visits per week. Occasionally, injuries may be aggravated for a few days after cold laser therapy before improvement occurs.
Conditions treated with cold laser therapy include but are not limited to the following
- neck pain,
- low back pain,
- temporomandibular pain,
- sports related injuries,
- ligamentous injuries,
- carpal tunnel syndrome,
- myofascial pain, and
- joint pain.
Jose Veliz MD is the medical director of Palomar Spine & Pain, in Escondido, CA (North San Diego County).