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mitochondriaAt Legacy Medical Centers we use the K-laser and other Class IV lasers that have the capacity to reach a power of 60 Watts and penetrate many centimeters below the skin’s surface. Our lasers work by photobiomodulation, a process by which the laser supplies photons of energy in the form of near infra-red light, which is absorbed by chromophores in the mitochondria of the cells. The primary chromophore is cytochrome c oxidase, the terminal enzyme in the respiratory chain. Activating this enzyme increases its rate of reaction, and more adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is produced, allowing for an improved rate of healing and repair within damaged tissues. The laser light increases the energy available to the cells so that they may assimilate nutrients faster and remove waste products. The most important and most basic effect of laser therapy is the improved production of ATP, which is the universal biological fuel within our body. When one receives laser therapy, they get a significant boost in ATP. According to Tiina Karu, Head of the Laboratory of Laser Biology and Medicine, many of the widespread benefits from laser therapy may, in fact, be related to the effects on ATP.

Class IV laser therapy (LT) has various benefits depending on how it is used including:

  • Anti-inflammation – Laser therapy reduces edema, swelling, and bruising because it helps with vasodilation and activates the lymphatic drainage system. Laser is also capable of reducing the inflammatory mediators TNF?, interleukin-6, interleukin-1 beta, and prostaglandin E2 often found in arthritis and tendinitis.
  • Anti-pain (analgesic) – Laser therapy has a beneficial effect on neurons that reduces pain transmitted to the brain. Laser can also stimulate the body to produce endorphins, which combat pain. Laser directed at the sympathetic ganglia leads to parasympathetic dominance in the targeted area, which can trigger blood vessel dilation and a pleasant warming sensation.
  • Nerve function – In damaged nerves, laser therapy can boost production of proteins such as Gap-43 which speeds up the process of neuron regeneration. Laser has been demonstrated to stimulate Schwann cells and increase the thickness of the myelin sheath (the insulation that wraps around a nerve) of damaged nerves. These effects can improve overall neuron function, optimize muscle action, and restore sensation.
  • Tissue repair and healing – Photons of light from lasers penetrate deeply into the body and accelerate cellular reproduction, growth, and metabolic processes. Laser light stimulates the proliferation and health of fibroblasts (cells which produce collagen, a protein essential for wound healing). Collagen synthesis and fibril size is significantly increased. This is relevant for the healing of many types of injuries, because collagen is found throughout the body, including the intervertebral disc of the spine, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Vascular activity – Laser will significantly increase the formation of new capillaries, a process called angiogenesis, in damaged tissue in order to speed up the healing process. Laser is capable of significantly boosting the blood flow into the soft tissues and limb(s) treated via vasodilation. Laser therapy at sites in the neck may boost circulation and oxygenation of the brain and has been found to be helpful in certain cases of headache, vertigo, tinnitus, and balance disorders.

At Legacy Medical Centers, we use Class IV laser therapy most often for:

  • Neuropathy
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Radiculopathy
  • Sciatica
  • Sprains and strains
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)
  • Tendinitis (e.g. Achilles tendinitis)
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
    • Arthritis (e.g. osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)
    • Bone injuries
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Headache
    • Herniated discs
    • Low back pain
    • Muscle tears or trauma
    • Neck pain

**Keep in mind that your health insurance may have a disclaimer stating that laser therapy is considered experimental or investigational for all conditions except carpal tunnel syndrome. At Legacy Medical Centers, we treat each case as unique and explain the intended purpose of treatment and obtain consent before starting care.

Additional Resources:

  1. Jang, Ho, and Hyunju Lee. “Meta-analysis of pain relief effects by laser irradiation on joint areas.” Photomedicine and laser surgery 30.8 (2012): 405-417.
  2. Karu, Tiina I. “Multiple roles of cytochrome c oxidase in mammalian cells under action of red and IR?A radiation.” IUBMB life 62.8 (2010): 607-610.
  3. Alves, A. C., et al. “Effect of low level laser therapy on the expression of inflammatory mediators and on neutrophils and macrophages in acute joint inflammation.” Arthritis Res Treat 15 (2013): R116.
  4. Lukowicz, Malgorzata, et al. “The impact of laser irradiation on global stability in patients with vertebrobasilar insufficiency: A clinical report.” Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research 17.9 (2011): CR517.
  5. Chow, Roberta T., et al. “Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials.” The Lancet 374.9705 (2009): 1897-1908.
  6. Bjordal, J. M., R. A. B. Lopes-Martins, and V. V. Iversen. “A randomised, placebo controlled trial of low level laser therapy for activated Achilles tendinitis with microdialysis measurement of peritendinous prostaglandin E2 concentrations.”British journal of sports medicine 40.1 (2006): 76-80.
  7. Ebrahimi, T., et al. “The influence of low-intensity laser therapy on bone healing.”Journal of dentistry (Tehran, Iran) 9.4 (2012): 238.
  8. Sattayut, S., and P. Bradley. “A Study of the Influence of Low Intensity Laser Therapy on Painful Temporomandibular Disorder Patients.” Laser therapy 21.3 (2012): 183.
  9. Takahashi, Hiroshi, et al. “Low level laser therapy for patients with cervical disk hernia.” Laser therapy 21.3 (2012): 193.
  10. Kuran, Ebneshahidi, Narges Sadat, et al. “The effects of laser acupuncture on chronic tension headache�a randomised controlled trial.” Acupuncture in Medicine 23.1 (2005): 13-18.
  11. Wang, Chau-Zen, et al. “Low-Level Laser Irradiation Improves Functional Recovery and Nerve Regeneration in Sciatic Nerve Crush Rat Injury Model.” PloS one 9.8 (2014): e103348.
  12. Chen, Yi-Jen, et al. “Effect of Low Level Laser Therapy on Chronic Compression of the Dorsal Root Ganglion.” PloS one 9.3 (2014): e89894.