Cold laser therapy emits gentle electrical impulses that helps stimulate nerve cell function to reduce pain, spasm, and inflammation. This therapy is very comfortable and pain relief can be felt immediately after the treatment.
How does cold laser therapy work?
Dr. Douglas DeSalvo: This is a really common question asked by many of my patients. What it does? or What it is?
It’s a medical device that emits a consistent beam of light, a coherent beam of light, at a specific frequency to stimulate healing at the cellular level. That’s really important to acknowledge, that it actually is stimulating healing at the cellular level. To go on further, in the traditional medical role, we have hot lasers used for surgical precision to burn tissue away but in chiropractic offices, we use cold lasers which means they don’t emit heat or burn patients but they help patients to heal by reducing pain, spasm, and inflammation.
To give you a little history here, it’s an incredible form of treatment that I started to use in 1999. I was an early adopter of the therapy. Met a doctor from Pennsylvania who co-invented a specific device. She was featured in an article entitled “Finally A Device To Cure Pain” from a magazine called “Alternative Medicine.” Her name was Dr. Connie Haber. I called up Dr. Haber to learn more and soon I got a machine for my office. Subsequently, she and I had patients traveling from out of state to get treatments for debilitating pain. It wasn’t long before we had numerous manufacturers and thousands of doctors using the device because of its effectiveness. It’s that good.
Without getting too technical, we want patients to understand that during the treatment with the laser beam, there’s an interaction between cells and the light therapy, or what we call photons, that creates a photochemical reaction. Damaged or injured tissue slows metabolism in these cells, so the light therapy or photons, affect the tissue at the cellular level to create more energy, which helps to decrease pain, spasm, and inflammation. That’s the gist of it.
What are some common issues or conditions that cold laser therapy helps to treat?
Dr. Douglas DeSalvo: That’s a great question. First, let’s talk about what it can actually do to our human tissue. It stimulates faster wound healing and it increases the metabolic activity, which means we get more oxygen into our cells and it creates a more effective immune response. It also reduces scar tissue formation from injury such as cuts, scratches, burns, and even following surgery. It reduces swelling or inflammation to give joints more flexibility. It also stimulates nerve cell function and re-connection to bring numb areas back to life.
There are many conditions that this helps with. I’ll give you a short list. They are headaches, sports injuries, auto accident injury recovery from whiplash, neck pain, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, sciatica, neuropathy, bursitis, tendonitis, a very common condition called Iliotibial Band Syndrome, TMJ which is a jaw problem, arthritis, where research shows laser to be effective for pain management for patients with arthritis and even disc herniation. Peer reviewed research shows disc herniations heal with laser. It’s a pretty incredible form of therapy.
Can you describe the equipment used in a therapy session?
Dr. Douglas DeSalvo: We use the MR4 super pulsed laser from a company called Multi Radiance Medical. It’s a small box with two laser heads that offers great functionality. ‘Super pulsed’ means it emits a laser in pulse patterns rather than a continuous pattern for maximum tissue effect. It has the ability to target or alert the technician to the injured area. The technology provides an interactive neural stimulation by constantly measuring the electrical conductivity that the machine is getting back from the tissue. In other words, it’s measuring the microvolt activity off of the muscle and then it will beep to let us know where to target the applicator. It allows us to control depth. This can actually penetrate up to five centimeters, which is pretty deep.
What does cold laser therapy feel like for the patient?
Dr. Douglas DeSalvo: This is light therapy which means that we can set the device so the patient doesn’t feel a thing but we can also deliver it with a sense of electrical feedback so the patient can feel a little tingling with these gentle electrical impulses. Either way, it’s very comfortable and most patients feel immediate relief with improved flexibility and decreased pain. In fact, we can improve the stretch of tight muscles in the neck or lower back or even tight hamstrings when we do the therapy.
Is cold laser therapy used in conjunction with other chiropractic treatments?
Dr. Douglas DeSalvo: Absolutely. We use it throughout the day to complement chiropractic manual or instrument-based treatments. It facilitates a faster response. To give you an example, we often have patients that come in with a hot lower back where they can’t stand up straight. They jam their back and they can hardly walk. The laser gives me and the patient an opportunity to get those muscle spasms reduced to make my manual treatment more effective and easier.
I always incorporate laser with what we call spinal decompression to help patients with slipped disc or disc herniation. Spinal decompression is a procedure where we use a special table to target the disc herniation. This, along with laser, greatly enhances the patient’s ability to heal from the disc without the use of medication, injection, or surgery.
I also use a technique called Graston soft tissue manipulation to help patients with fascial adhesions and tendonitis. The laser, with the soft tissue manipulation, is the best of both worlds to get a faster response.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Douglas DeSalvo please visit www.desalvochiropractic.com or call 415-898-6888 to schedule an appointment.