Cold Laser Therapy has been used in clinical practice all around the world for over four decades. In 1916, Albert Einstein conceived the theory of Light Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Radiation or LASER. In 1967, Professor Andre Mester began using low power lasers in medicine. Dr. Mester is recognized by many as the grandfather of laser therapy.
F.D.A Recognition of Cold Laser Therapy
The F.D.A classifies medical lasers into three categories:
Class 4 Surgical Lasers
Class 3B Non-surgical Lasers
Class 3A Low-Level Lasers
Class 4 Surgical Lasers are used to cut, coagulate, and vaporize tissue. This is different from Class 3B and Class 3A non-surgical lasers, which are painless, non-burning, and non-cutting forms of lasers. Class 3B or Class 3A Low Level Lasers do not have the intensity to damage cells. Class 3A lasers help heal superficial wounds and conditions and will typically not penetrate below the skin’s surface. However, Class 3B low level lasers have the ability to penetrate and assist in the healing process of deep tissue and joint problems.
Cold Laser Therapy Pain Management Treatment
Types of Conditions Treated by Cold Lasers
History of Cold Laser Therapy
Cold Laser Therapy Advantages and Disadvantages
The first experimental FDA clearance of Class 3B Lasers occurred in February of 2002, after a successful study for carpal tunnel syndrome on workers at General Motors. The laser that was used had a power of 90mw at 830nm.
Certain low level laser devices are also FDA approved for relief of the following conditions:
Muscle and joint pain
Stiffness associated with arthritis
Pain associated with muscle spasms
Hand pain and wrist pain associated with Carpal Tunnel
Lower back pain
Cold laser therapy is a newer procedure with several advantages and disadvantages.
Potential Cold Laser Therapy Advantages
Cold laser therapy is a non-invasive procedure, meaning that it does not require a surgical incision. This means that there is no prolonged recovery time.
Laser therapy also does not involve taking any medications, and many patients prefer to avoid taking medications. Studies have so far found that cold laser therapy does not have serious side effects when used properly.
Potential Cold Laser Therapy Disadvantages
Patients do not typically get full relief or resolution from their pain symptoms after the first treatment. It takes a series of treatments, usually 5 to 30, depending on the severity and duration of the condition.
Patients often need to return for treatments daily, a few times per week, or weekly. Old injuries may be aggravated for a few days after treatments, but for most patients this sensation is short term, lasting only a couple of days.
Medicare and Medicaid do NOT cover cold laser therapy expenses. Most major medical insurance carriers do NOT assist with payment and others do not cover any of the treatment.
Cold laser therapy should not be used over any suspicious cancerous lesions, or carcinoma, over the thyroid, on pregnant patients, and there should not be direct irradiation of the eyes, as the laser can cause permanent damage to the eyes.
Pregnant women are recommended not to undergo the procedure, since its effects on unborn children are not yet known. The doctor and the patient should use protective eyeglasses so that there is no direct eye exposure.
Cold laser therapy is one option among a variety of treatment approaches that can potentially provide pain relief or pain reduction, especially for patients seeking a treatment without the use of surgery or drugs.
It can be used alone or in combination with a number of other therapies.
While it is still a relatively new treatment option and there is incomplete information about its optimal treatment protocol, it is considered a viable treatment option for those seeking an alternative to invasive treatment.
Cold laser therapy is yet another method in the set of tools to help assist in pain relief, and it is considered a reasonable treatment option for certain types of pain by most health care professionals.