Light-emitting diode (LED) technology, which got its start as an applied technological spin-off from NASA research, has a well-proven track record in terms of cellular rejuvenation.1
This can lessen the appearance of scars, acne and wrinkles, and stimulate collagen (a protein the body forms to fill out the skin over the skeletal framework).2 As a result LED light therapy is often used by plastic surgeons as a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of the face.2
However, there has been some interesting research on possible applications for LED therapy within the DC’s office. How might you be able to incorporate this technology into your practice?
What does the research say?
The three main areas in which LED light therapy could be of most benefit to chiropractic patients are wound healing, acute and chronic pain, and inflammation. A 2011 study on rats found that surgical incisions exposed to LED light for a total of 10 minutes over five days, as compared to incisions that were not exposed to any LED light, showed substantially increased healing at seven days after surgery.3
The researchers concluded: “Illumination would provide an easily applicable, safe, and cost-effective treatment of surface wounds.”
Another 2011 article took a more general view of the efficacy of LED photobiomodulation, including for treating both acute and chronic pain, and skin inflammation such as dermatitis.4 The treatment has also been shown to help with nerve regeneration following spinal cord injury.
It is thought that the LED causes a photochemical reaction within the target cells that stimulate mitochondria to repair damaged cells and stimulate functional ones to work more efficiently, depending upon the wavelength and the depth of the LED used.
How can your patients benefit from LED light therapy?
One of the great things about LED therapy is that almost any type of patient can benefit from it. Your geriatric patients will benefit from the relief LED can offer to stiff and sore joints due to osteoarthritis, while your athletic patients could benefit from seeing faster reduction in acute pain and inflammation following injury, getting them back into the game that much faster.
Perhaps the most obvious way your patients can benefit is as another treatment for both acute and chronic pain. While it is certainly true that the chiropractic adjustment will be the mainstay of your practice, adding in an LED treatment either before or after an adjustment may well help alleviate your patients’ pain symptoms faster and for longer periods of time.
In much the same way, LED therapy can also be an excellent add-on treatment to relieve inflammation, which often goes hand-in-hand with pain. This can be particularly true in the case of chronic inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis. For example: Patients with knee injuries may find LED therapy to reduce inflammation, which will in turn help speed up the healing process.
LED therapy has a proven track record at accelerating healing in a variety of ways and is likely to be beneficial for many of your patients. Adding in LED therapy will not only allow you to provide your patients with more effective treatment for their pain, stiffness, and inflammation, but will give your treatments added value and benefit.
- Braukus M. NASA light-emitting diode technology brings relief in clinical trials. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Nov. 13, 2003. Accessed 9/6/2016.
- Brown A. LED light therapy for anti-aging and acne.com. Accessed 9/6/2016.
- Adamskaya N, Dungel P, Mittermayr R, et al. Light therapy by blue LED improves wound healing in an excision model in rats. Injury. 2011 Sep;42(9):917-21.
- Kim W-S, Calderhead RG. Is light-emitting diode phototherapy (LED-LLLT) really effective? Laser Therapy. 2011;20(3):205-15.