FHN Complementary Medicine Monthly Newsletter October 2007
What’s in a Therapeutic Laser and Why does it work.??????
Those are two of the more frequent questions we get asked about LASER therapy that we do here at Complementary Medicine. As most of you know we use a low power laser for smoking cessation, carpal tunnel, weight lose, wound healing, and many pain control applications. So how does shining a light on it make good things happen? There have been many PhD papers written on the subject and much additional research is being done daily. We are going to look at this from a very rudimentary level. (For those of you who hate physics!)
We are fortunate to have a class 4 laser which gives us enough power to effect deeper tissues effectively. So …..What’s in a laser. We actually have 3 laser in one. They are made of special LED’s (similar to those lights that are on all your electronic equipment these days). We have three separate diodes that produce 3 separate wavelengths of light. (650nm red light, 790nm infrared, and 975nm infra red, for those who just have to know). The different wavelengths they have found have different therapeutic effects and different penetrating effects. Those diodes are then put through different lenses to additionally focus the light to a small beam.
Why does it work? Many in the medical community are surprised to find out that there is good solid physics behind the physical effects. So what are some of them? Just a quick review of cell biology. Inside the cells are “chromophores”, these are light sensitive apparatus that are responsible for many functions inside the cell including ATP (energy) formation.
So the first thing the laser does is increase energy at the cellular level. When tissue is damaged it requires increase energy levels to heal. Other documented effects are the increase in nitric oxide, calcium ion balance restoration, increased collagen formation in the fibroblasts, increased action potential in nerves, stimulation of immune system. These are a few known effects, more are being learned everyday.
Beside the wavelength being an important factor in therapeutic laser so is dosage measured in Joules (watt-secs) of energy. We must get enough laser energy to the tissue that we want to effect to get the physical effects to happen. Our new class 4 laser has from 10mw to 5 watts of power that we can deliver to the tissue. This allows us to effect tissues we could not have previously reached and to cut treatment times down.
So there is a short course in why it works. We hope you find this useful.
Drs. Glenn and Julie Smith