By Dava Stewart
Knee pain is a common reason for patients to seek chiropractic care, regardless of age, activity level, or gender. Obesity, aging, osteoarthritis, sports injuries, IT band issues, and a host of other problems can all cause that pain.
Chiropractic care is effective in treating many conditions that cause pain in the knee. Manual adjustments and instrument adjusting have both been used successfully to treat various knee conditions for many years. Recently, practitioners and patients have been seeing success through the use of low level laser therapy (LLLT) to treat conditions that cause knee pain.
LLLT, which is also sometimes called cold laser therapy, has been proven to be an effective way to treat inflammation and pain. The National Institutes of Health has conducted multiple studies, and the treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. No side effects have been reported, and patients feel results immediately. The analgesic properties of LLLT do not carry the same risks that traditional drug therapies do.
Several studies have addressed one condition in particular: knee osteoarthritis, or KOA.
KOA usually affects middle aged and elderly people and is most often a slowly progressing condition that causes the cartilage in the knee to degenerate. People with KOA have pain, and although many treatment plans can slow the condition, it is not curable. Many patients eventually reach the point where surgical intervention is recommended.
LLLT can be a way to ease the pain of KOA without the side effects that many drug treatments carry.
Multiple studies have shown that KOA patients benefit from LLLT. In one issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy, titled “Can osteoarthritis be treated with light?” 11 studies addressing the question of whether LLLT is an effective treatment for KOA were cited. The author states:
“A single application of LLLT produced significant reductions in inflammatory cell infiltration and inflammatory cytokines 24 hours later. A lower laser power was more effective than a higher laser power.”
Although the article concludes that more research needs to be completed before the title question can be answered, evidence appears to be mounting in favor of using LLLT. Since no side effects have been reported and the lasers used for LLLT are safe, the question is, why wouldn’t DCs treat the pain associated with KOA using LLLT?
LLLT is used successfully, safely, and routinely in chiropractic offices to treat a number of conditions. Studies continue to demonstrate that the treatment is both safe and effective. As the population ages, the incidence of conditions causing knee pain are likely to continue to rise. Practitioners who offer LLLT may be better positioned to effectively treat patients who are suffering from knee pain.