I talk about stretching and exercise as a way to decrease your pain and improve your function often in the blog. Ultimately I believe that over the long term the best way to manage orthopedic pain is through exercise or activity. However, there are times when it is difficult to exercise because you just can’t break through the pain. When this pain cycle is stubborn, we have to use other types of interventions so you can tolerate some exercise. There are other times when you are in pain just because you overdone it and are in pain despite doing everything right for the majority of the time. When these occasions occur we have a tools to manage the pain. One of the most useful and interesting tools is the low level laser.
Laser therapy is a less commonly used modality and people may not be familiar with it. The laser is often known as a a cold laser because it does not actually heat tissues and will not cut tissues. In fact, most patients have little to no sensation when then laser is being performed. The laser basically works through two mechanisms. The first action of the laser is to reduce inflammation by stimulating certain parts of the cell. The second action of the laser is to reduce pain by blocking pain signals in nerves.
There are some patients that I have found that the laser works particularly well including:
1: Patients with nerve pain. This is especially true if the nerve pain is from a nerve that is close to the surface. This is true of situations like carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact there is evidence of carpal tunnel being sucessfully treated in the literature. Link
2: Patients with temporomandibular dysfunction. Both acute and chronic temporomandibular joint pain are types of problem that I have seen good results with in the clinic. Again there are studies to back this up. Link
3: Patients in need of tissue healing. We have had patients who demonstrated improved bone growth after regular laser treatments. If you recently have had a surgery you may benefit from laser treatments to promote healing. There have been animal studies that have demonstrated this. Link
Other patients also benefit from the laser treatments. In general if you are experiencing a condition that would benefit from reducing inflammation or blocking pain signal, you may from laser treatments. Laser can be performed in conjunction with physical therapy treatments or by itself. We offer several different options to make laser treatments affordable. If you are interested trying the laser give contact us via email, phone or give us a call.
Jon Hill, DPT, Licensed Physical Therapist with Siskiyou Physical Therapy
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