Low Level Laser Therapy (Cold Laser)

Published: 22nd March 2011
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What it does:
Stimulates cell growth
Increases cell metabolism (Increased ATP production by the mitochondria and increased oxygen consumption on the cellular level)
Improves cell regeneration
Reduces fibrous tissue formation
Stimulates nerve function
Reduces production of substance P (an important element in pain perception)
Stimulates long term production of nitric oxide
Decreases the formation of bradikynin, histamine, and acetylcholine
Increased serotonin and increased endorphins

Increased anti-inflammatory effects through reduced prostaglandin synthesis

Improved blood circulation to the skin in cases like neuralgia and diabetes mellitus

Decreases permeability of the membrane of the nerve cells for Na/K causing hyperpolarisation

Increased lymphatic flow and decreased edema

Physiological Mechanism:
Low Level Red light or Near infrared light penetrates the skin only about 10mm and exerts an effect on the Mitochondria. Specifically it releases NO from Cytochrome C allowing the electron transport chain to resume production of ATP and reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species. Increased reactive oxygen species shift the overall redox potential of the cytosol toward greater oxidation. This environment may in turn have an effect on transcription factors such as nuclear factor B which is instrumental in the transcription of protective and stimulatory gene products. The released NO is also now free to exert a localized vasodilatation effect through its effect on cGMP.
Common Types:
Most low level lasers will emit light with a wavelength within the 600nm to 1000nm spectrum.
630nm - 700nm will penetrate between 6 and 10mm
780nm - 890nm will penetrate 2 -3 cm
Higher wavelengths will penetrate 3 - 5 cm
Lasers can also be set to pulse on and off in a duty cycle or superpulse. A duty cycle means that the power is one for part of a second and off for part of a second and a superpulse is a very fast duty cycle. Duty cycles can be used to increase the time of a treatment without increasing the amount of energy given to the cells. Superpulsing is often used with high wavelength light and emits a large amount of power and can actually increase the penetration of higher powered light.
Interesting Facts:
Laser therapy is often described in Joules or how much energy is being emitted. A level of energy can be obtained through an extended period of time with a lower level laser or a shorter time with a higher level laser. Studies on the biphasic dose response show that in many cases a shorter time period will be more beneficial. It is also believed that a lower dose of light all together will be more beneficial as the lower levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species released at a lower dose of light are very beneficial, increased levels of these at higher doses of light can be damaging. So don't let it sit there forever.
It is important to press the laser down into the skin in order to push away any excess fluid in the area. Water in the area will refract the laser.
Don't shine in the eye
Do not place over the thyroid gland
Immune Suppressant Drugs
Treatment Over Sympathetic Ganglia, The Vagus Nerves & Cardiac Region In Patients With Heart Disease

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