Low Level Laser Therapy: A brief overview

Date Posted:6 May 2015 

Low Level Laser Therapy is becoming more widely practiced in the treatment of pain, both acute and chronic. Yet most people are more familiar with other forms of laser treatments such as laser hair removal or surgical laser procedures. So what is the difference?

A common misconception about Low Level Laser Therapy is that it produces heat and can even burn. Unlike surgical lasers which are used to ablate or destroy tissue or tumours, the intensity of low level laser is not high enough to produce heat, so it cannot burn or heat the skin.

In fact, there is little or no sensation during a low level laser therapy treatment. While you may not feel the laser, the beam of low intensity light is hard at work below the skin’s surface, re-energising the body at the cellular level. 

The effects of LLLT treatments include:

  • increased production of endorphins for reduction in pain
  • enhanced lymphatic flow to drain cellular waste
  • increased circulation
  • increased rate of cellular growth and repair
  • reduces fibrous tissue formation
  • stimulates tissue healing

Typically, low level laser devices use specific wavelengths, between 600nm (visible red) - 905nm (infrared). A beam of low level laser light penetrates into the tissue through the skin to a specific depth depending on the wavelength.

The properties of laser light mean it is a monochromatic, coherent and directional beam of light. While other light sources, such as the sun, are dispersed, low level laser light penetrates deeply, targeting the site of pain, promoting healing at the source.

Patients often experience a range of benefits including: relief of muscle spasms and soreness, reduced swelling, faster wound healing, less joint stiffness with greater functionality and movement, and most significantly, less pain.

As a non-invasive and often more affordable and effective approach to pain management, the significance of this treatment is huge. More needs to be understood, before it will become more accepted and accessible. However, the signs are encouraging that one day low level laser light therapy will become commonplace.

Further reading:

Practical Applications of Low Level Laser Therapy A brief review of some of the basic concepts of low level laser therapy, clinical indications for its use, and treatment options when applying therapeutic lasers to patients in pain. by William J. Kneebone, CRNA, DC, CNC, DIHom, FIAMA, DIACT