Though low intensity laser therapy (lilt) is relatively new to the Okanagan, its therapeutic applications have been around for over three decades.
I consider myself fortunate to have a laser clinic within my practice, as many patients have had profound improvements with its application. It seems to be one of the best kept secrets of Kelowna. The spectrum of maladies that it treats is vast.
One such pathology would be reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RDS). This usually develops from an injury or trauma and from that injury the individual will suffer from pain in the soft tissue, joints, muscles and bones.
So what the laser can do at and from a cellular level is greatly reduce these symptoms by promoting healing and lasting pain relief.
RSD can involve the interaction of the sensory, motor and autonomic nervous system; and the immune system, so it is thought that the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) control the various processes and somehow are changed, altered or damaged as a direct result of injuries sustained.
Research has demonstrated that low intensity laser therapy is successful in the regeneration and functional recovery of the soft tissue and nervous structures. Recent research has indicated that it alters the immune system’s response after a spinal cord injury. This is paramount for proper nervous and soft tissue healing.
The type of low intensity laser therapy we are using is most effective in reducing inflammation by initiating a healing response at a cellular level. When we reduce the amount of inflammation in the tissue in conjunction with increasing the amount of cellular fuel, known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s ability to heal itself increases exponentially.
This is essentially how the laser works, by evoking a restorative response at the cellular level of injured tissue. It’s a neurological level. Laser therapy stimulates deep into the tissue to help maintain the functional activity of injured nerves, decreases the scar tissue formation, decreases degeneration in corresponding motor neurons and peripheral nerves, and significantly increases the axonal growth and restoration of injured nervous tissue.
When looking at what happens right down at the cell itself, we see accelerated migration of nerve fibers. Recent studies have demonstrated there is an increased amount of nerve cell and nerve fiber sprouting and re-growth. This is very important when one is in a great deal of pain.
So in essence, light energy is converted into biochemical energy. The result is that normal cell function is restored. It’s very much like increasing one’s ability to heal using their own pathways with no complications, side effects or drug interactions.
Originally this laser was being used to treat diabetic ulcers and other such associated soft tissue compromise. Since then, research has demonstrated how low intensity laser therapy is highly effective in treating many other degenerative and painful conditions. Because this treatment acts at a cellular level we are aiding the body in healing naturally.
On a daily basis, I have seen symptoms of pain, sensitivity from overactive nerves, inflammation, joint pain, tingling, and numbness disappear quite quickly considering the chronicity of the injuries. If you suffer from any form of chronic pain, low intensity laser therapy may be an option you can add to your toolbox.