Cold laser therapy gaining acceptance for various treatments

PHOTO BY JOSHUA KODIS

Although low-level laser therapy has been around for a while, new medical conditions for which it is a viable treatment continue to come to light.

“Cold laser therapy beams light energy at your skin to reduce pain and inflammation deep within an area of your body,” according to WebMD. “It’s used to treat knee pain from osteoarthritis, as well as low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, tendinitis, nerve pain and sports injuries.”

The treatment, which employs 600- to 1,000-nanometer wavelength light, is used by “orthopedists, sports medicine doctors and trainers, physical therapists and chiropractors,” including Dr. Kerri Ward, a chiropractic physician whose practice, Achieving Wellness, is in Port St. Lucie. She has been working with lasers for six years.

“I first saw them at continuing ed seminars that I was attending at Life University School of Chiropractic in Marietta,” she says. “I had access for a week and used them both on patients and myself for a work-related wrist injury. I interviewed everyone after the first treatment, and they all raved about the pain relief.”

Cold laser therapy “uses light photons that are introduced to your skin with a wand that contains several light-emitting diodes,” according to verywellhealth.com. “As the photons enter your skin and pass through injured tissue, chemical changes to the mitochondria of the cells occur, signaling them to increase the production of adenosine triphosphate. This is theorized to cause positive growth and healing to those tissues.”

Medical doctors first viewed the therapy with skepticism, but a number of scientific studies, including double-blind placebo-controlled studies, have substantiated the healing effects of low intensity laser beams and a growing number of MDs now use the treatment.

Healthline.com reports that “a 2015 meta-analysis (examining data from a large number of independent studies) found that cold laser treatments can have a positive effect on pain reduction in people with low back pain. Another meta-analysis found that joint pain can be lessened with the use of cold laser therapy.”

Unlike higher-frequency lasers used for surgery, cold laser pulses don’t heat or cut your skin. The light triggers chemical changes that help damaged cells and tissues heal and regrow. During treatment, the doctor puts the cold laser device directly on your skin or very close to it, where it sends a painless pulse of photons.

The treatment in non-invasive, has no known side-effects and does not involve pain-killing drugs, which can lead to addiction and overdose.

Dr. Ward says you will need a minimum of four to six treatments to see results. “Although the majority of insurers do not cover it, it’s affordable for most people,” she states.

Many patients are potential candidates for the treatment, but Dr. Ward shares that some should not get cold laser therapy. “Pregnant women and certain cancer patients should avoid it,” she said. “There is no age limit, however. I even used it for a minute on my own newborn grandson to treat a birth-related situation.”

Those with epilepsy and certain other conditions also should not receive the treatment.

Consult your doctor to find out if you are a candidate.

Although devices are available for self- and home-use, it’s important to know how and when to use them. For instance, it’s possible to cause permanent damage to your eyes if the devices aren’t handled properly.

Cold laser therapy is FDA-approved for certain applications. Dr. Ward said the opportunities for it to become increasingly important in the world of medicine are exciting.

Dr. Kerri Ward was studying to be a pharmacist at Mercer School of Pharmacy in Atlanta when she learned about chiropractic medicine’s emphasis on health as opposed to sickness. Attracted by the paradigm, she enrolled in Life University School of Chiropractic, where she graduated with a doctorate in 1999. She has been licensed in the state of Florida since 2001. Her practice, Achieving Wellness, is located at 304 NW Bethany Dr., Port St. Lucie: 772-344-1431. She is accepting new patients.

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