LED and LLLT results are showing impressive research results when combined with chiropractic care
Complete chiropractic care covers a wide range of therapeutic modalities, some of which are just as high tech as what patients will see in a medical doctor’s office.
Two of the more exciting of these high-tech therapeutic techniques are low-level light therapy, known as LED therapy, and low-level laser therapy (LLLT). Both of these treatment techniques have taken great research strides forward in the past several years and have shown some remarkable benefits.
However, there are some important differences between these two treatments.
LED and low-level laser therapies
Similarities: Both LED and LLL therapies rely upon targeting energy at injured tissue to begin a photochemical process that can alleviate pain and inflammation, as well as speed wound healing and regeneration.1,2
This energy generation is done with the use of diode technology that emits wavelengths within the red or near-infrared spectrum. In comparison, surgical lasers operate within the ultraviolet spectrum, making them capable of cutting into the skin.
Differences: The biggest difference between LED and LLL therapies are in terms of the depth each can reach. LEDs only emit light within a small band of wavelengths, generally approximately 20 nm. They also operate at a significantly-lower power level than do most therapeutic lasers.
Both wavelength and power can affect how deep into the tissue the light from either an LED or an LLL can reach. As a result, LED therapy is better suited for treating surface conditions, while LLLT is optimal for addressing issues that occurs deeper within the tissue.3,4
A 2004 article in the Journal of Clinical Laser Medicine & Surgery studied the use of LED therapy for healing wounds by using both in vitro and in vivo (rat and human) models.3
A variety of LED wavelengths, power levels, and energy parameters were tested. The researchers found that the LED therapy increased cell growth by 140-200% in rat muscle cells and by 155-171% in human epithelial cells. Furthermore, wound size decreased by 36% in the rat model and by more than 40% among human test subjects.3
A 2014 article in the journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgery studied the effect of LLLT, in conjunction with exercise, on the reduction of low-back pain.4
A group of 100 patients were randomized to receive either LLLT three times a week with daily exercise, or placebo LLLT with daily exercise. At the end of the three-week study, those patients receiving active LLLT showed significantly greater decrease in pain than did the placebo LLLT group. The researchers concluded that LLLT “might be considered a valid therapeutic option within rehabilitation programs for nonspecific CLBP [chronic low-back pain].”
While it is true that the adjustment will always be the mainstay of chiropractic care, both LED and LLLT results offer unique benefits. Such treatments could be a profitable addition to your menu of services.
- Kim WS, Calderhead RG (2011). Is light-emitting diode phototherapy (LED-LLLT) really effective? Laser Therapy. 2011;20(3):205-215.
- Knappe V, Frank F, Rohde E. Principles of lasers and biophotonic effects. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. 2004;22:411-417.
- Whelan HT, Smits RL Jr., Buchman EV, et al. Effect of NASA light-emitting diode irradiation on wound healing. Journal of Clinical Laser Medicine & Surgery. July 2004;19(6):305-314.
- Vallone F, Benedicenti S, Sorrenti E, et al. Effect of diode laser in the treatment of patients with nonspecific chronic low back pain: A randomized controlled trial. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. August 2014;32(9):490-494.