Sponsored by Erchonia
When most people hear the word “inflammation,” they think of it as being a bad thing.
This is largely attributed to the symptoms one typically gets when an area of the body is inflamed. These include uncomfortable reactions such as pain, swelling, heat and redness.
However, as the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains, although inflammation may not feel good in a physical sense, it actually serves a valuable purpose. Ultimately, inflammation is designed to help the body naturally fuel the healing process.
Benefits of inflammation
When initiated, inflammation causes the human body to release many different substances, some of which are responsible for expanding blood vessels in the affected area. This makes it possible for a greater amount of blood to reach the injured tissue, advancing the healing process. It is this increased blood flow that makes the area feel hotter and become redder in color.
In addition to expanding blood vessels, some hormones and inflammatory mediators are responsible for making them more permeable. This allows an increased level of defense cells to reach the injured area more effectively, offering more healing power yet. Because they carry fluids with them, it’s not uncommon for the area to grow in size, which is why swelling typically accompanies inflammation.
Though these types of responses are actually beneficial to the human body, the combined effects of the inflammatory process often create an unpleasant result, involving feelings of discomfort and pain. While pain medication is one possible avenue to consider, taking this route doesn’t come without some major concerns.
Negative effects of pain treatment medications
One of the most concerning aspects of prescription medication is the current opioid epidemic facing the nation, because these types of pain killers are highly addictive in nature. According to research shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their March 17, 2017 weekly report, individuals who took prescription pain medication for a mere eight days wound up continuing to take them long-term 13.5 percent of the time.
If individuals take a pain script for more than 30 days, that rate more than doubles, to nearly 30 percent. In other words, if you are on opiates for at least a month, you have about a one-in-three chance that you’ll still be on them several months later.
There’s also the concern of limited functionality, as pain medication often causes mental effects related to decreased mental clarity and increased drowsiness. This can make it more difficult to tend to activities of daily living, such as driving, taking care of family members, or handling work-related obligations and duties.
Fortunately, this discomfort and pain can potentially be lessened naturally, without the use of opiates. One option is low level laser therapy (LLLT) as research indicates that this particular treatment method can oftentimes help.
Research behind low level lasers and inflammation
For instance, in 2004, a meta-analysis study was published by Photomedicine and Laser Surgery involving 34 peer-reviewed papers. Nine of them spoke specifically about pain control, with the researchers indicating that, based on their findings, there was a positive overall effect with regard to this one factor alone. They found other favorable responses as well, such as those relating to rate of healing and tissue repair.
Another meta-analysis and systematic review, this one published in 2009 by the medical journal The Lancet, looked at LLLT and its impact on neck pain management. After analyzing 16 randomized controlled trials, which encompassed 820 patients in total, researchers concluded that LLLT “reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain.” Furthermore, this pain reduction often continues up to 22 weeks post-treatment.
Several studies have also been conducted to more fully understand exactly how low-level laser helps reduce inflammation-related pain. Many have centered around TNF-α.
Low level laser therapy and TNF-α
TNF stands for tumor necrosis factor and TNF-α specifically is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that is thought to instigate or aggravate the inflammation response. Or, as one article published in the Journal of Lipid Research explains succinctly, increased concentrations of this cytokine “are found in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions (e.g., trauma, sepsis, infection, rheumatoid arthritis).”
Many studies have found that LLLT can help reduce TNF-α concentrations, thus positively impacting inflammation and pain. For instance, one was published in Lasers in Medical Science in May 2011, reporting that when injured rats were subjected to low-level laser, their TNF-α expression decreased at both the one- and seven-day marks. Additional studies, like one published in Arthritis Research & Therapy in 2013, have found the same.
This is promising news for individuals suffering from inflammation-related pain. Most importantly, perhaps, according to the research low level laser therapy may be a treatment option that allows patients to avoid the risks and adverse side effects commonly associated with prescription pain medications.
Erchonia was founded in 1996 as a small family business, and even though we’ve grown into an international corporation, we still operate under the founding principles that guided us to our present success. Our commitment to the scientific advancement of Low Level Laser Therapy (3LT) through clinical research has transformed Erchonia into a world leader in the field of LLLT technology. The integrity, diligence, quality and commitment of our company are evident in the rigorous scientific process we follow.