Laser therapy has revolutionized the practice of chiropractic—low level lasers can allow chiropractors to treat a whole host of conditions, ranging from chronic pain, to inflammation, to promoting wound healing.
However, while lasers bring cutting-edge technology to chiropractic practices, there are still a number of issues to take into consideration with laser therapy, and one of the most important is tissue depth. Some conditions, such as tennis elbow, will require a very shallow treatment depth, whereas therapy for a frozen shoulder requires deeper laser penetration.
Amount of penetration
Certain areas of the body may be more sensitive to laser treatment, which may require working at less tissue penetration with more sessions. For instance, treating that tennis elbow or sprained ankle requires very little penetration depth because there is very little tissue in those areas—they are mainly skin almost directly over bone. Therefore, low penetration is all that is needed to treat the thin layer of tissue in those areas. By comparison, an area with a great amount of tissue, muscle, and blood vessels, such as a shoulder blade, may require deeper penetration to get to maximum treatment efficiency.
Compressive force with the laser tool will also affect treatment depth. Pressing the tool into the skin will displace surrounding blood to the side and provide better access to underlying tissue. Because blood hemoglobin absorbs a large amount of the laser’s light energy, it is important to displace more blood in areas that require deeper tissue penetration. Therefore, the tool will need to be pressed with more force against the shoulder blade than it will against the elbow.
Clothing can provide yet another barrier to proper tissue penetration for the laser’s light energy. Depending upon the type and thickness of fabric, as well as the color, light energy penetration can be reduced by anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent.