Your Complete Guide to Photobiomodulation (Chiropractic Laser Therapy)
What is Photobiomodulation?
Shortly after the laser was invented in 1960, Endre Mester noticed that applying laser light to the backs of shaven mice caused their hair to grow back more quickly than in mice not exposed to laser.1 He also observed that incisions appeared to heal faster on laser-treated animals. These findings initiated research to understand the effects of light on living cells and the mechanisms involved.
Hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted in vitro to characterize the dosages needed to achieve a cellular response with light.2 These studies give a baseline for the amount of laser energy needed to achieve results at the cellular level.
Photobiomodulation therapy is defined as a form of light therapy that utilizes non-ionizing light sources, including lasers, light emitting diodes or broadband light, in the visible (400 – 700 nm) and near-infrared (700 – 1100 nm) electromagnetic spectrum. It is a nonthermal process involving endogenous chromophores eliciting photophysical and photochemical events at various biological scales.
This process is beneficial to your patients because it produces outcomes such as the alleviation of pain or inflammation, modulation of the immune system and the promotion of wound healing and tissue regeneration.3 The term photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy is now being used by researchers and DCs instead of terms such as low level laser therapy (LLLT), cold laser or laser therapy.4
Achieving Results with PBM
For PBM to occur, light needs to reach the mitochondria of the damaged target tissue. Appropriate dose selection is critical to the safety and effectiveness of photobiomodulation therapy. To get clinical results, sufficient light must reach the target tissue. There are various parameters to consider when calculating dose, including power density or irradiance, treatment time, wavelength, pulsing, and application technique.
The therapeutic dose is measured in joules (J) delivered per square centimeter of surface area. Much of the research conducted in the field has involved cell or small animal studies in which low power and small beam size were sufficient to treat the cells or muscles.
How Can Laser Therapy Benefit Your Patients?
Whether you’re looking to complement soft-tissue work, kinesiology taping, or other manual techniques, laser therapy can serve as a strong adjunctive treatment. Laser therapy can also provide value as a stand-alone modality for conditions that are unresponsive to treatment and for patients who do not care for spinal adjustments.
Often, patients with nagging chronic pain feel an immediate difference when laser therapy is applied. These patients who are begging for relief when nothing else has worked can become your best word-of-mouth ambassadors.
Laser therapy is commonly used to treat tendinitis, adhesive capsulitis, sprains and strains, sports injuries, post-operative conditions, plantar fasciitis, and similar ailments that present with pain and inflammation. Other common applications for laser therapy are for symptoms related to postherpetic neuralgia, shingles, TMJ, and sinus issues. The results after treating shingles and postherpetic neuralgia have been life-changing for patients with debilitating chronic pain. The key to these results is providing each patient with the most appropriate dose of energy for his or her condition.
Effective Treatments with Laser Therapy
An important parameter to look for in a therapy laser is the ability to manually change treatment settings. You wouldn’t give a 90-year-old- woman the same adjustment as you would a 25-year-old collegiate athlete, so you wouldn’t give them the same laser treatment either.
To provide the most effective dose of laser energy, you need the ability to adjust your settings for every condition. Other parameters you may alter during treatments include power, wavelength, and time. Be sure to understand the concept of target dose; for consistent results you need to administer the correct amount of energy per square centimeter of tissue area.
3 Ways to Increase Patient Referrals
Growing your practice can be difficult. There are many methods you can choose to employ, from placing local advertisements to building a website. Many DCs end up using multiple marketing tactics to attract new patients, but one thing every practice can and should do is dedicate time to increasing their patient referrals.
1. Get Social: Leverage social media to gain patient referrals.
2. Implement a New Technology: A therapy laser can get patient results and therefore referrals.
3. Get Out in the Community: Go meet the patient demographic you're looking to treat and foster relationships