Two specific examples of laser healing success stories with low-level therapy in addition to chiropractic care
Chiropractic has evolved from only using only the hands to manipulate the spine to using both manual and computer-assisted adjusting devices, as well as a wide range of other treatment modalities. This increased use of technology in chiropractic is particularly evident with the growing number of applications for low-level lasers to reduce pain and inflammation, and improve tissue repair.1
While DCs are mainly concerned with the mechanism, safety and effectiveness of low-level laser therapy, it is important not to lose sight of patients in the quest for more knowledge and data to support the value of chiropractic care.
In fact, I’m going to use myself and a friend (with their permission) as two examples of such success stories, thanks to low-level laser therapy.
Treatment of knee osteoarthritis
Patients with degenerative joint conditions can be excellent candidates for low-level laser therapy, particularly if they have tried several other treatment modalities with little success.2
This was certainly true in my case.
Approximately five years ago I was diagnosed with degenerative osteoarthritis in both knees, with more cartilage loss on the right side. I was also unable to fully straighten my right leg from a seated position on a flat surface. I tried both over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs, stretching exercises and three rounds of physical therapy. However, I was still not happy with the range of motion or flexibility in my knees.
My chiropractor recommended a treatment plan focusing on low-level laser therapy and home stretching exercises. After eight treatments, once a week, I was able to increase my range of motion in both knees. My right leg improved from a 20-degree bend, when my leg was straight, to a 5-degree bend. I have been slowly building up my knee strength over the past several months, with yoga, stretching and cycling, and am pleased with my progress.
Treatment of sports injuries
Treating sports injuries, particularly those as a result of overuse, can be difficult, as most athletes want to get back in the game as soon as possible, and may not give themselves enough down time to properly recover.3 Unfortunately, this is precisely what happened to my friend “H,” who is both a marathon runner and a dancer.
After coming back from foot surgery, she was eager to start training for a big marathon event. At first, it seemed that she was making good progress, pacing herself with consecutively longer and longer distances, in order to train for the upcoming marathon. Unfortunately, she pushed herself too hard right away and ended up with a pulled Achilles tendon.
I recommended she see the chiropractor who treated me. H underwent low-level laser treatment and heat therapy for pain and inflammation of her Achilles tendon. She was also given stretching exercises to reduce the chance of a subsequent injury. Although she missed the event she was hoping to run, she was able to enter another big marathon and was happy with her finishing time.
Patient success stories, such as mine and H’s, are important, if for no other reason than they remind DCs why they chose to become chiropractors in the first place. Behind all of the data supporting the use of low-level laser therapy are individual patients whose only measure for success is reduction of pain and increased range of motion. Sometimes, patient success can mean just as much as clinical success.
- Avci P, Gupta A, Sadasivam M, et al. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: Stimulating, healing, restoring. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. 2013;32(1):41-52.
- Hegedus B, Viharos L, Gervain M, Gálfi M. The effect of low-level laser in knee osteoarthritis: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. 2009;27(4):577-584.
- Morimoto Y, Saito A, Tokuhashi Y. Low level laser therapy for sports injuries. Laser Therapy. 2013;22(1):17-20.