The Healing Powers of Light

Even before we knew the what and why, we have been gaining healing benefits from light. Modern day application of light based modalities has gained traction in the holistic health industry and general acceptance in medicine as research continues be done in this area. I personally have had an interest in laser for the entirety of my career. Light-based therapy used to treat pain & inflammation can be delivered by both lasers & LED light. There is a lot of confusion around what is light therapy/photo therapy, what makes it different from laser, and for good reason. LED light therapy technology costs significantly less and is more accessible to consumers. You may have already received light therapy treatment before. Maybe you have your own infrared sauna, seen red light panels at your gym or spa, or even know of someone that uses a full-spectrum light during certain times of the year. We are going to dive into those today. There is a ton of information out there, which can really be a challenge to sort through. I am going to touch on the main categories of light therapy, the science behind it (in plain language) as well as explain the medical use of cold lasers, which we offer in our office.

Red Light Therapy (RLT):

  • How It Works: Red light at specific wavelengths penetrates the skin and is absorbed by cells, particularly the mitochondria (the energy production center of a cell). Therefore, red light causes a boost in cellular energy production, promoting healing and reducing inflammation.
  • Benefits:
    • Pain Relief
    • Tissue Repair

Infrared Light Therapy:

  • How It Works: Infrared light penetrates deeper into tissues, reaching muscles and joints. It improves blood circulation, reducing inflammation which is thought to promote faster healing.
  • Benefits:
    • Promotes circulation and reduces inflammation
    • Muscle Recovery

 Full-Spectrum Light Therapy:

  • How It Works: Mimics natural sunlight, influencing the body's circadian rhythm and promoting the production of serotonin and vitamin D.
  • Benefits:
    • Mood Enhancement for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
    • Helps regulate the body's natural sleep-wake cycle

UVB Phototherapy:

  • How It Works: Controlled exposure to UVB light slows down the growth of skin cells and is effective in treating conditions like psoriasis.
  • Benefits:
    • Skin Conditions
    • Vitamin D Synthesis

Laser therapy is a non-surgical pain management treatment which we offer in our office. It was first invented in the 1960s. Early experimentation found that the use of laser light in low doses did not damage tissue but accelerated tissue growth and healing.  This low-level laser therapy (LLLT) became commonly referred to as cold laser. It is also now universally referred to as “photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy, in case you see that anywhere. Cold laser therapy is approved for use by the FDA, and it is considered safe for most patients. The treatment has very few side effects and is tolerated very well by most people.

The research shows positive results with various types of pain including osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, bursitis, neuropathic pain. There is also a systemic effect on the body that has shown to influence inflammation and tissues in areas that are not directly being treated.

  • How It Works: The wavelength and power of a laser device are an important distinction of how they can best be used therapeutically. Lasers are generally capable of producing much higher powers than LED lights, which significantly impacts their ability to reach deeper tissues.
  • Benefits: 
    • Alleviate pain
    • Reduces swelling
    • Influences the immune system to help your body to respond to injury or disease
    • Promotes healing in damaged tissues

As with most healing interventions you will likely need more than one treatment for long term benefits. Although more is not always better.  Don’t forget safety is the key. We do not use the cold laser on women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is also not recommended for people who have open sores, suspicious moles, or cancerous lesions.

The effectiveness of light-based therapy can vary from person to person, and it's essential to tailor the treatment to the individual's specific needs that can include their age, type of pain and injury, medications, and other medical history. Light therapy and cold lasers can complement chiropractic treatments by promoting healing, reducing pain, and improving overall well-being. Our chiropractic practice, just like many other integrated healthcare clinics offers cold laser to naturally help manage pain and decrease recovery time while your body is healing.

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