EFFECTIVE — PAINLESS — COMPLETELY SAFE
Some of the specific conditions that Laser Therapy is effective with include:
· Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
· Back Pain
· Bruising and Contusions
· Acute (Traumatic) Pain
· Neck Pain
· Painful Trigger points
· Plantar Fascitis
· Repetitive Stress Syndromes
· Sports Injuries
· Tennis/Golfer Elbow
· TMJ Disorders
· ....and Many Others
But she changed her mind after seeing how the laser expedited healing of some players' soreness and pain. "I don't think [the improved recoveries were] a coincidence," Spicuzza said. "It did help. I used it on a flared-up sciatic nerve, and the player had relief soon after treatment."
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when tendons or ligaments in the wrist become enlarged, often from inflammation. Nearly 500,000 Americans have surgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome each year; surgery costs $8,000 to $10,000 per patient, according to the American College of Orthopedic Surgeons. Unlike surgery, treatments involving low level laser therapy are non-invasive and require no healing time. There are no gels or ointments applied prior to the treatment. The most notable sensation is the pressure of the head of the laser on the skin, though some patients report a small tingling.
Barbour said that while the FDA cleared the laser only for carpal tunnel syndrome treatment, "medical clinicians have the option of using it for adjunctive use for pain therapy if in their medical opinion it is indicated." Such off-label uses are common in the world of drugs.
Proposed by Albert Einstein in 1917, low level light therapy was not developed until 1960. A Hungarian surgeon, the late Endre Mester, first reported his experience using laser light to treat non-healing infections and inflammations in rats. Mester's reported 70 percent success rate in treating these infections led to the development of a science he labeled "laser biostimulation," or the stimulation of the local immune system.
According to Richard Martin, a Santa Monica, Calif., photobiologist specializing in laser therapy, cells and tissues subjected to inflammation, edema and injury have been shown to have a significantly higher response to low level laser irradiation than normal healthy structures. There is no evidence the light damages the cells.
Since 1967, more than 2,000 clinical studies have been published worldwide on cold lasers. Supporters of the technology cite the fact that most are positive, showing the devices safe and effective in a variety of clinical uses.
Others come to different conclusion, saying most of the studies are small and poorly controlled and lack a standardized treatment that could let researchers compare results equally. The Cochrane Collaboration, an international nonprofit group that evaluates research about clinical practices, has published several reports on low level laser therapy; the most recent were issued this year. The researchers found that data from several studies showed no benefit in treating osteoarthritis pain -- but two of the studies in particular showed very positive results. The group concluded there is an "urgent need" for large-scale clinical trials for this use.
Another research summary concluded that low level laser therapy was effective in reducing pain and morning stiffness for those with rheumatoid arthritis. But there were no differences in the treated subjects in overall disability, swelling or range of motion. And no data was available for effects beyond 4-10 weeks of treatment.
Other Cochrane reports show some benefits from low level laser therapy for frozen shoulder, but no benefits when used on rotator cuff tendinitis.
Swedish physicist Lars Hode, president of the Swedish Laser-Medical Society, says the safety and efficacy of low level laser therapy is better documented than that for ultrasound therapy, which is well accepted medically. However, he says, there were some negative articles about cold lasers 20 years ago.
" In the '80s, the medical industry had inferior lasers," he said. "With the advent of stronger lasers at reasonable prices, the situation today has changed considerably."