Laser Therapy in Physical Therapy

Laser is a word derived from the acronym of the English expression “strengthening light by the emission of stimulated radiation”. Different types such as low-energy laser therapy and high-energy laser therapy are used in medicine. The type used in physical therapy is mostly low-energy laser therapy.

A laser device is a tool that emits light of a single wavelength (one color). The light waves it produces are simultaneously in phase. Since the rays are not scattered much, they can reach long distances in a straight line. Low-energy laser devices create near-red and infrared rays. Devices that emit light at a wavelength of 632 to 905 nm can be used for the treatment of musculoskeletal problems. The rays at these wavelengths can pass through the skin and reach the subcutaneous tissue. The low energy laser does not emit sound, vibration or heat. Connective tissue cells affect the function of fibroblasts, accelerating tissue repair and relieving inflammation.

In laser treatment, the output power of the device is specified in watts (w) or milliwatts (mw). Class 3 laser devices are less than 500mW powerful tools. They are used in low energy laser therapy. Also called cold laser. Class 4 devices, on the other hand, are used for high-energy laser therapy, with a power greater than 500 mW. The intensity of the applied treatment is expressed in joule/cm 2  unit, which shows the amount of energy per unit area . There are also guidelines recommending the use of joules alone as a unit in order to better explain the dose the patient receives.

Laser therapy accelerates cell growth and proliferation, accelerates tissue metabolism. By increasing circulation, it ensures the removal of waste materials and reduces edema. It reduces the scar tissue formed on the skin due to reasons such as surgery, injury, and burns. It reduces the sensitivity of nerve fibers to pain. As a result, it provides a reduction in complaints such as pain, swelling, stiffness.

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This treatment can be used in combination with other physical therapy methods such as massage, TENS , acupuncture, exercise.

Although laser treatment varies according to the purpose used, it is mostly done for 5-15 sessions. Each session takes around 5-10 minutes. Mostly, there is a decrease in pain from the first session. 3-4. After the session, the effect is felt more clearly.

What Problems Is It Used For?

It can be used for neck, waist and joint pain. It is an effective method for tendonitis, bursitis , muscle strain, ligament strain, carpal tunnel syndrome , overuse injuries and many sports injuries.

Are There Any Objections to Laser Treatment?

Laser therapy has been safely practiced in the physical therapy field for more than 20 years. It has almost no side effects. However, there are some points to consider when using it.

  • It is inconvenient for laser beams to come directly to the eyes and everyone in the environment where this treatment is applied should take precautions to protect their eyes. For this, both the patient and the practitioner should use special glasses.
  • It is not applied to areas with cancer and metastases.
  • It is not applied around the abdomen in pregnant women.
  • Low-frequency visible light pulses are at risk of triggering seizures in people with epilepsy.

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