LLLT: Science fiction or a real breakthrough for pain sufferers?

Date Posted:29 April 2015 

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is used by many pioneering health practitioners around the world to treat pain, inflammation and for rehabilitative applications. Over the past decades, the volume of university-published research studies documenting the effects of laser therapy across a broad spectrum of medical applications has steadily increased. It’s great to see so much research and trials in this field, as well as passionate practitioners encouraging its use.

Yet, many people are unsure exactly how LLLT works, and there are still misconceptions about the therapy. When we suffer pain, we are accustomed to invasive treatments such as taking a drug or having surgery to get relief. So how does laser light relieve pain and heal our bodies?

Using lasers to heal may sound like science fiction, but it’s actually science. Our bodies respond to low level laser light therapy in a similar process to photosynthesis in plants. Plants cannot survive without light. The sun’s UV and infrared rays provide light energy which the plant converts to cellular energy. In an earlier blog, we used the example of a tomato plant with healthy soil and plenty of water that didn’t thrive because it was situated in the shade.

In the same way, when human cells absorb low level laser light a photochemical reaction occurs, the light is converted to cellular energy.

In the 1960s, scientists conducting experiments on rats discovered low level laser light caused hair to grow back more rapidly, suggesting that laser light promoted cell regeneration.

This photochemical reaction happens when cells synthesise infrared or visible red laser light, converting the light particles (called photons) to energy. This energy stimulates cellular mitochondria to increase the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) – the essential energy source that human cells need to function. The increased production of ATP brings oxygen-rich blood to the injured area, reducing oxidative stress and accelerating healing.

In other words, laser therapy works by boosting the body’s natural healing and cell rejuvenation mechanisms. After an LLLT treatment, cells have increased metabolism and a greater resistance to stress.  Sick cells are re-energised to heal themselves. As the cells and tissues heal, pain is reduced.

As science explores and discovers more effects and benefits of Low Level Laser Therapy, the treatment is becoming more widely accepted and accessible. As a non-invasive and often more affordable and effective approach to pain management, it offers a new possibility in the quest for pain relief for sufferers around the world.