Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
By Caroline Jones osteopath at Islington's Angel Wellbeing Clinic
Laser Therapy improves tissue repair, reduces pain and inflammation by the application of red and near infra-red light over injuries or lesions. Low Level Laser Therapy was developed in 1967, it is now commonly referred to as LLLT.
Laser therapy has been used for many years on sports injuries, arthritic joints, neuropathic pain syndromes, back and neck pain. Over 200 randomised clinical trials have been published on LLLT, half of which are on pain.
LLLT can help with:
Other therapists using laser therapy include the British and US military, Premier Division soccer teams, Olympic teams, Formula 1, rugby and cricket team therapists as well as specialist pain clinics, physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors in the UK and USA.
The effects of LLLT are photochemical (like photosynthesis in plants). When the correct intensity and treatment times are used, red and near infrared light reduces oxidative stress and increases ATP. This improves cell metabolism and reduces inflammation. When pain relief and analgesia is required, there is a different type of treatment with a different mechanism of action used.
What is it?
LLLT or cold laser therapy uses lasers or LED's to promote tissue repair, reduce inflammation and minimise pain in muscles, joints and nerves. It is pain free and can be incorporated within and compliment your usual treatment as each session usually takes no longer than ten minutes.
LLLT has been around for many years now, and hundreds of clinical trials have proven its effectiveness in the treatment of sports injuries, arthritic joints, back and neck pain, as well as neuropathic pain syndromes.
How does it work?
When administered at the correct dose and position, Laser and LED beams of light can stimulate the cells in the body that promote tissue repair, resolve inflammation and reduce pain.
The science behind this is the effect that light has on cytochrome c oxidase and consequently the unbinding of nitric oxide and release of ATP leading to improved cellular function.
For anti-inflammatory effects it has been found to produce a measurable reduction in PGE2, TNF Alpha and IL-6 in the synovia surrounding damaged tendons.
For analgesia, higher intensity lasers over a nerve supply can inhibit fast axonal flow.
LLLT is pain free and only contraindicated in only a small number of cases. It is also safer than taking anti-inflammatory medications. For further information and to find out if LLLT is suitable for you, please contact the clinic and Caroline will be happy to call you back and discuss your case with you.
How we use LLLT at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic
Treatments with Laser Therapy take up to 10 minutes typically and may be applied two or more times a week in acute situations or weekly in less acute conditions alongside conventional osteopathic treatment, At Islington's Angel Wellbeing Clinic, we use laser therapy to help speed up healing and repair process and reduce the need for anti-inflammatory medication which slow down the tissue repair process.
Here are some examples of recent reviews that have found the use of LLLT effective.
BMJ sports medicine journal, systematic review of surgical and conservative interventions for frozen shoulder found "strong evidence" for LLLT. (2010)
The International Association for the Study of Pain (Global Task force on musculoskeletal pain) found "strong evidence" for Low Level Laser Therapy on myofascial pain syndrome. (2010)
The BMJ clinical evidence recommendations for tennis elbow 2011 now include LLLT
American Physical Therapy Association guidelines recommend LLLT for Achilles tendonitis. (2010)
Lancet systematic review: "LLLT reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain". (2009)
World Health Organisation (Bone and Joint Task Force) for neck pain Low Level Laser Therapy "more effective than no treatment, sham, or alternative interventions" (2008)
In August 2010 The Lancet reported that the systematic review of LLLT for neck pain was in their top 20 most downloaded papers for 2010.
LLLT is pain free and only contraindicated in a small number of cases. It is also safer than taking anti-inflammatory medications. For further information and to find out if LLLT is suitable for you, please contact the clinic and Caroline will be happy to call you back and discuss your case with you.