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Laser Therapy FAQ

What is laser therapy?

Laser therapy is the use of a laser to promote cell growth. Its frequency promotes the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) within cells. High amounts of ATP give cells more energy to multiply quickly and speed healing. Laser is especially recommended for tendon and ligament tears, but will also work for muscle or other tissue damage. Each session lasts 5-15 minutes and involves the placement of a handheld device on the injured area. Most patients feel warmth during the treatment. Multiple sessions at frequent intervals are recommended to maximize benefit.

What types of conditions are appropriate for laser therapy?

Any acute or chronic pain or injuries can be helped with laser, including, but not limited to:
  • Arthritis (all types)
  • Disc herniation
  • Bruises
  • Hematomas
  • Tendonitis
  • Neck pain
  • Temporomandibular (TMJ) pain and arthrosis (arthritis)
  • Shoulder/rotator cuff injuries
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Bursitis
  • Elbow pain and injuries
  • Wrist pain and injuries
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hand pain and injuries
  • Lumbar pain, sprain, and strain
  • Hip pain
  • Sciatica
  • Knee pain and sprain
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Heel spur
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Foot pain

How does a laser heal tissue?

Lasers use light to accelerate cellular metabolism through a process known as "photobiomodulation". The head of the laser compresses tissue to accelerate fluid drainage of the area. Light (photons) is absorbed by water and a variety of proteins in the body. Some of these photons affect the way cells transport electrons and thereby increase energy transfer within cells. Light also acts as an antioxidant, enhances signaling between and within cells, dilates blood vessels, and mitigates inflammatory response in the treated area. These changes cause increased growth factor production, faster cell reproduction, and formation of a stronger matrix that binds cells together. Laser-induced blood vessel dilation speeds healing in the treated area by allowing cells to receive more oxygen, sugars, proteins, and salts, while removing waste quickly.

For a detailed, technical animation explaining how lasers work, watch the video below.

Does laser treatment hurt? What does it feel like?

Usually, patients feel warmth at the treatment site.

Are there any side effects or risks associated with treatment? Are there patients who should not receive laser treatment?

Few side effects have been reported over 20 years of use. Very rarely, a rash or blister may form at the treatment site which resolves in a few days. Occasionally, pain may temporarily increase or old injuries may become sensitive in response to the accelerated tissue growth and healing. New pains usually resolve within a few days after each treatment and will become less pronounced with continuing treatments.

Laser therapy is not appropriate for patients with fever, hemorrhages, or cancer or those who are pregnant. Steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce the effectiveness of cold laser therapy. Common NSAIDs include: "Generic (Brand name)"
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox)
  • Asprin (Bayer, Ascriptin, Ecotrin)
  • Celecocoxib+Sulindac (Celebrex)
  • Piroxicam (Feldene)
  • Oxaprozin + Salsalate+ Diflunisal (Daypro)
  • Indomethacin + Etodolac (Indocin)
  • Meloxicam (Mobic)
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren)
  • Naproxen + Nabumetone + Ketrorolac Tromethamine (Naprosyn)
  • Naproxen+Esomeprazole (Vimovo)

What type of laser does Integrative Oriental Medicine use? Is it cleared by the FDA?

Integrative Oriental Medicine uses a class 4 (most powerful class) laser, the Aspen Pinnacle 30 Watt System. This system allows for continuous wavelength therapy, allowing it to create the highest amount of therapeutic effect in a single session. It can transmit up to 9000 joules of energy in as little as 5 minutes, allowing for brief treatments with maximum results. The Aspen Pinnacle also has pulsation features which can vary the depth of laser penetration to repair damage in deeper or shallower layers tissues. This system also includes a library of custom programs for different types of injuries and tissue degeneration, so all problems receive the optimal level of power.

The Aspen Pinnacle 30 Watt System is cleared by the FDA for "temporary relief of pain associated with arthritis, muscle pain and increasing microcirculation".

How often to I need to receive laser treatment?

Acute, painful conditions may be treated daily or every other day for optimal results. Chronic problems are best treated 2-3 times each week at first. As the condition improves, treatments are gradually tapered off to once per week and eventually once every other week for maintenance.

How long does each laser treatment take?

Most laser treatments take 5-15 minutes per area being treated. Larger areas may take longer.

How many treatments do I need before I start seeing results?

Treatment effects are cumulative, and most patients experience results after 3-4 treatments. Some patients notice improvement after the first session, while others do not notice a change until 4-5 treatments. Lack of results after the first few sessions does not mean nothing is happening. Since treatment effects are cumulative, it may take several treatments to activate tissue to a perceptible level.

How many treatments do I need total?

Acute conditions often resolve with approximately 5 treatments. Chronic conditions may need 10-15 treatments to resolve and may require ongoing bi-weekly or monthly sessions to manage pain.

Can I combine laser with other therapies?

Yes. Laser provides a helpful enhancement to all therapies provided by Integrative Oriental Medicine. It also improves the effects of other therapies like chiropractic and massage.

How long do laser treatments last? How much do they cost?

FOR A LIMITED TIME, ENJOY YOUR FIRST SINGLE LASER SESSION FOR 30% OFF ($35 for $50 value)! Single laser sessions (one body area) last 15 minutes can be purchased for $50. Packages of 5 laser sessions cost $40/session (20% savings). Packages of 10 laser sessions cost $38/session (24% savings).