Low level laser therapy – what it is, how it works, and side-effects
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), also known as cold laser therapy, is a quick and non-invasive form of muscle and tissue repair treatment. It’s mainly used for pain relief but can also be used to treat common skin ailments and is used by physical therapists, dentists, and dermatologists.
LLLT is a relatively new concept in comparison to other procedures, so it’s worth taking the time to do your research. So, what is there to know about low-level laser therapy? And is this treatment right for you?
In this article:
Four to six sessions
Duration of results
Six months to a year
Back to work
Full recovery time
150 SAR to 190 SAR
10 to 20 minutes
No pain relief required
What is low level laser therapy?
Low-level laser therapy transmits small amounts of light into tissue and muscle to aid the body’s healing process. These light levels are extremely low when compared with more intense therapies, such as laser procedures that treat tumours.
The light from the laser is classed as ‘cold’ because it isn’t hot enough to heat the surface of your skin.
It is used to treat:
- Sports and dance injuries.
- Repetitive strain injury.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Skin rashes and dermatitis.
As well as treating sprained muscles and joints, damaged tissue and inflammation, low-level laser therapy can also be used to treat slow-healing wounds related to disorders such as diabetes, and even hair loss, by stimulating hair follicles to re-enter the growth phase.
The practice has been developed in the last two decades and was recognised as an alternative treatment for muscular pain by the World Health Organization in 2008.
However, it shouldn’t be used on carcinomas or cancerous legions, and it’s also not advised for pregnant women as there hasn’t been enough research into the side effects on unborn children yet.
How does low level laser therapy work?
If you’re looking for an alternative pain relief method, LLLT could be an option for you.
The science behind it
The scientific name for LLLT is photobiology, or biostimulation, because the light stimulates cells to accelerate connective tissue repair.
An LLLT laser emits different wavelengths of red and near-infrared light, depending on the type of tissue being treated. It helps to stimulate cells by improving the oxygen and blood flow to certain areas – speeding up the healing process. It also increases your natural immunity and improves circulation.
Before the treatment
Find treatments near you with our clinic locator/listings.
As LLLT is such a straightforward treatment, after your initial consultation little preparation is required. Simply turn up to your appointment and take note of any further advice your practitioner may provide.
During the treatment
The time your low-level laser therapy procedure should take depends on the size of the area and how many areas require treatment but it’s generally quick.
- Your clinician will move a small handheld laser device over the areas that require attention.
- You should not feel any pain, heat, or vibration.
- The process should be completed in around 10 to 20 minutes.
Following low-level laser therapy treatment, you can return home and get back to your normal routine. It will likely take around a month to feel the full effects of your treatment and immediately afterwards you might feel a slight ache in the area. Try to rest the area, like you would a pulled muscle or a sprain.
Depending on how complex the injury or issue is, you may need a course of treatments– usually between four and six sessions for full pain relief.
What are the side-effects of low-level laser therapy? Plus, everything else you need to know
What are the side-effects of low-level laser therapy?
Since it is non-invasive, there are no known long-term LLLT side-effects. You may experience a mild ache following the treatment, but this usually subsides within a few days.
How much does low level laser therapy cost?
The average price per session for LLLT is around SR150 to SR190. Doctors usually recommend multiple sessions over a period of six months to a year.
How can I find low level laser therapy near me?
Use our clinic locator/listings to help you find nearby LLLT clinics.
The treatment might not be suitable for you, but there are a few other alternatives to consider:
- Physiotherapy and massage – the traditional ways to treat and alleviate joint or muscular pain.
- Acupuncture – many acupuncturists use LLLT to reach deeper pressure points that needles cannot, though you may find that acupuncture goes some way in improving or healing pain issues.
- Skin rejuvenation treatments – While treatments like phototherapy and IPL won’t help to alleviate any pain, they can help with some skin complaints. Phototherapy can be beneficial for relieving itching and inflammation when it comes to treating conditions like eczema and dermatitis. IPL can also be used to treat skin conditions like acne and rosacea, as the wavelengths of light target the inflammation. Like LLLT, you’ll need several sessions until you start to see results with both treatments.
Speak to a doctor to see which course of treatment is best for your condition.
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