Laser therapy is a natural, non-invasive form of treatment which stimulates the body’s cellular metabolism. It can be used as a therapy by itself or as an adjunct to other methods.
By sending a Low Level Laser Light through the treatment applicators, the normal cellular function can be triggered resulting in a faster wound healing and pain relieving.
In essence, Laser Therapy works in harmony with the body’s own healing and pain relieving mechanisms. As a result, there are no harmful side effects.
The meaning of the word Laser is Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. This concept was first introduced by Albert Einstein, but it was not until the early 1960’s that Lasers were used as a method of therapy. It has been shown through research that Laser Therapy can be used to treat many indications producing benefits such as:
• Improved Circulation, brought about by widening of capillaries and arteries
• Reduction in Swelling, the result of improved lymphatic system drainage
• Release of the body’s own pain killing chemicals, for extended pain relief
• Stimulation of collagen production, an important aspect in wound healing
For the last 4 decades, scientists and doctors around the world, especially in Europe, have been using this modality to treat different conditions related to soft tissue problems.
Effects of Laser Light on Tissue
There are five actions of laser light on tissue that will be helpful to understand for proper use of the laser light.
1. Accelerated Tissue Repair
The most common example of the conversion of light energy into chemical energy is photosynthesis, where plants manufacture food from carbon dioxide and water. Light energy from the sun is the essential item in that process. No reasonable person disputes photosynthesis, it is a well known process that converts photons of light energy into chemical energy. The action of laser light is quite similar to photosynthesis in plants. Photons of light from a laser penetrate deeply into tissue and power the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a molecule that is a major carrier of energy from one reaction site to another in all living cells. Increases in ATP as a result of laser light increases the energy available to the cell so that the cell can take in nutrients faster and get rid of waste products. In straight forward terms, the cells of tendons, ligaments and muscles are repaired faster as a result of exposure to laser light. How much faster? A good rule of thumb is that the time for healing is reduced by 2/3rds of the time it would normally take with all other factors remaining the same. i.e. rest, feed, training, etc.
2. Rapid Formation of Collagen
Collagen is the most common protein found in the body. It is estimated that 80% of a horses body is made up of this important fibrous protein. Various types of tissue make up the body. Connective tissue is the most widely distributed. In connective tissue, fibroblast cells produce the ground substance and tissue fibre. The “extra” energy from laser light is used by fibroblasts to increase collagen production. Collagen is the essential protein required to replace old tissue or to repair tissue injuries. Perhaps the most common example of collagen is the clear sticky substance found around open wounds. Wounds are healed or closed over very rapidly by the application of laser light. There is also less scar tissue formed when laser light is applied to the area.
3. Beneficial Effect on Nerve Cells and the Production of B-Endorphins
Laser light has a highly beneficial effect on nerve cells which block pain transmitted by these cells to the brain. Studies have shown that laser light increases the activity of the ATP dependent NA-K pump. In this case, laser light increases the potential difference across the cell membrane moving the resting potential further from the firing threshold, thus, decreasing nerve ending sensitivity. A less understood pain blocking mechanism involves the production of high levels of painkilling chemicals such as endorphins and enkephelins from the brain, adrenal gland and other areas as a result of exposure to laser light.
4. Accelerated Lymphatic System Activity and Reduction in Edema
Everyone wants to reduce the swelling in a horse’s leg. The problem is that the veins in the leg are only capable of removing one component of the swelling. Blood vessels can remove the water but not the dirty protein solution that is present. So, if a treatment modality accelerates blood flow, this part of the problem is not solved. The lymphatic system is required to take away dirty proteins from edema. Laser studies conducted in 1987 and early 1988, indicate that laser light is capable of doubling the size of the lymphatic ducts in the area of exposure and rapidly removing the protein waste. Another important aspect of the study showed that laser light was capable of “perfect” regeneration of the lymphatic system in the immediate area with no leakage and no confused network of ducts. In the normal regeneration of lymphatic systems, the ducts are leaky and the duct network is complex and confusing, leading to a tendency to have the same problem occur in the same area.
5. Formation of New Capillaries and Increased Blood Flow
Many types of treatments will increase blood flow. It has been shown that laser light does this extremely well, there is no question about that point. But, what is not commonly recognized is that laser light will significantly increase the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue. It is the formation of new capillaries that speeds up the healing process, closes wounds quickly and reduces scar tissue.