Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is also known as laser therapy, cold laser therapy, red laser, infrared laser and photobiomodulation therapy. This modality has been used for acute and chronic pain, tissue repair, inflammation, edema, injury, chronic disease, and laser acupuncture. There are no reported side effects with this therapy to date. It has been used since the 1960’s.
How Does Low Level Laser Therapy Work?
The mechanism of action of photobiomodulation therapy is through the absorption of red and near infrared light by chromophores found in the mitochondria in the cell. The chromophore is called cytochrome C oxidase and is found within the electron transport chain located inside the mitochondria. This absorption of light is thought to improve ATP (energy) and a disassociation of nitric oxide (NO). NO is a vasodilator that help with improved circulation and a decrease in inflammation. A burst of reactive oxygen species (ROS) results in healing and repair of tissues. The process results in greater energy and oxygen for the cell as well and altering transcription of genes, modulated cell survival and death and improved tissue repair and regeneration.
Why Isn’t LLLT More Mainstream?
Using light to improve health and wellbeing has been an integral part of human existence for centuries. Laser therapy has only been studied for use for about 60 years or so. There are some possible explanations of why laser therapy has not become more mainstream.
There is still some controversy on how exactly the absorption of photons (light) helps the body at a cellular level. Until the mechanisms of action are better understood at the cellular level and the resulting biological effects can be documented and reproduced, the mainstream application of laser therapy will remain controversial.
Another possible reason is that dose, energy, wavelength, power, time and repetition are all variable. Positive results in low level laser therapy are dependant on these factors. Reproducing positive outcomes from clinics, research hospitals and scientists has been challenging because of the varied approaches of scientists and clinicians all over the world.
It is well known, however, that proper application with low level laser therapy is an amazing therapy for pain relief, decreased inflammation and tissue healing and restoration.