More chiropractors are adopting cold laser therapy for pain in their practice for difficult-to-heal conditions and inflammation
With interest in cold laser therapy growing, you may be wondering about the potential benefits for your patients. Cold laser therapy uses gentle light treatments to target specific areas of the body and encourage tissue to regenerate and heal.
Thanks to widely-available cold laser devices, chiropractors can bring this potentially valuable option to their patients both within the clinic and even at home.
Get started and offer this unique therapy to your patients by learning more about cold lasers and how they work.
Cold laser uses
Cold laser therapy can be used for a wide variety of conditions related to pain and inflammation, such as:1
- Aches and pains
- Promoting healing in broken skin and difficult wounds
- Rashes and skin conditions
- Joint discomfort and soreness
- Possibly aids in stroke, spinal cord injury and heart attack recovery
Research is identifying more and more areas of patient health that can be improved with cold laser therapy care. As such, interest in how cold laser helps with healing is growing.
How cold laser therapy works
By targeting damaged tissues within the human body, cold laser therapy encourages tissue regrowth and regeneration. At a cellular level, cold laser therapy may start anti-inflammatory action that then results in actual healing within damaged tissues. It may also promote mitochondrial activity that improves energy within the cell and makes it possible for tissues to use their energy more efficiently.
There is still some debate about the exact mechanism of action and how much of a difference we can expect cold laser therapy to make in regenerating tissue. Large studies have mostly explored cold laser therapy’s impact on animals, not humans, so we don’t know yet what the full impact of cold laser use is on people. That said, the evidence in favor of cold laser therapies is promising and presents interesting possibilities for chiropractic care.1
Cold laser therapy could be used in concert with other therapies and treatments in the clinic or potentially even at home under doctor supervision.
Cold laser in the chiropractic clinic
If you’re considering cold lasers for your own practice, here’s what you should know:
- In-office sessions: The provider uses a specialized cold laser device to target specific tissue areas on the body. Light used in cold laser therapy is cool and gentle, focusing its effects on the cells.
- Number of treatments: Some patients may start seeing improvement within the same day, while others may require multiple treatments over the course of several weeks. Particularly severe cases may need more sessions, but generally patients could be prescribed 8-15 visits.
- How therapy feels: During treatment, some patients report a mild tingling sensation, but cold lasers don’t use high temperatures or warm tissue to create healing results. Many patients feel nothing.
- At-home treatments: Alternatively, you could recommend device purchase for your patient or provide one to use at home.
- Insurance coverage: Although some insurers may cover cold laser therapy, its use for certain conditions may not be covered. Medicaid and Medicare, for instance, do not currently cover cold laser therapy for diabetic and non-diabetic peripheral sensory neuropathy or for the wounds that originate from these conditions. Before you prescribe it, you should make sure your patients can self-pay for this care or have an insurance plan that provides coverage.
When treating a specific condition, recent research can provide guidance on treatment duration and methodology. Cold laser therapy is an area with a lot of interest and ongoing research.
Recommending equipment to patients
Although therapeutic devices for at-home use are available without a prescription, physicians should take care to provide their own recommendations and ideas to patients.
Some devices sold online and in stores as cold laser therapy lights do not actually produce the correct amounts of light in the right wavelengths to offer effective treatment. There may be fraudulent devices for sale, so chiropractors should use caution and do their own research to determine what should be recommended.
Cold lasers in clinic
If you’re ready to try cold laser therapy, start doing your own research to find the right light devices and treatment options for your patients.
Cold laser therapy is approved by the FDA, but be sure to always check and make sure the device you want to buy is right for your patients and is approved for use where you practice. These treatments can help you fight pain, inflammation, and potentially address other conditions, making cold laser therapy potentially very valuable for your patients.
- Chung H and Dai T, et. al. “The Nuts and Bolts of Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy.” Annals of Biomedical Engineering. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10439-011-0454-7. Published: Feb 2012. Accessed: Oct 2019.
- Alves AN, Fernandes KP, et. al. “Effects of low-level laser therapy on skeletal muscle repair: a systematic review.” Am J Phys Med Rehabil. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25122099. Published: Dec 2014. Accessed: Oct 2019.