Photobiomodulation therapy – also known as cold laser therapy or phototherapy – uses non-thermal light sources like lasers and LED to treat pain and heal the body. Dr. Oz recently helped popularize this form of therapy.
Light therapy might sound mystical, but the practice is firmly grounded in scientific research. The medical devices used in photobiomodulation have been approved by the FDA, a process that includes the review of clinic data.
“Photobiomodulation complements chiropractic care because it provides pain relief that doesn’t come out of a pill bottle,” explains Chiropractor Dr. Joseph Graffeo. “This therapy works on a molecular level. The lasers affect the cells of the muscle tissue. However, the patient feels nothing during treatment.”
The majority of the Graffeo Accident & Injury Clinic patients receive photobiomodulation at every visit because the therapy helps heal most injuries, from back pain to leg injuries. Photobiomodulation therapy is adjusted based on the patient’s feedback and preferences. Some patients say they feel immediate relief while others say they notice the effects of their treatment after a few visits or weeks of care.
How Does Photobiomodulation Work?
Photobiomodulation is a complicated process, but the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery does a good job breaking it down:
A light source is placed near or in contact with the skin, allowing the light energy (photons) to penetrate tissue. The light interacts with chromophores located in cells. This results in photophysical and photochemical changes. These changes lead to alterations at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels of the body. Light induces a complex chain of physiological reactions in diseased and damaged tissues to:
- Accelerate wound healing and tissue regeneration
- Increase circulation
- Reduce acute inflammation
- Reduce acute and chronic pain
- Help restore normal cellular function
Light Therapy for Athletes
Recent research indicates that light also can enhance performance in normal tissues and cells. This make photobiomodulation a non-pharmaceutical option for athletes. A 2016 double-blind study of rugby players concluded that photobiomodulation therapy enhanced the performance and accelerated recovery of high-level rugby players in field tests.
Athletes may use photobiomodulation to improve their performance, but the average patient will use this therapy for pain relief. By combining chiropractic treatment with photobiomodulation, patients can get back to the active healthy lives they enjoy, without debilitating pain and without prescription medication.
The History of Light Therapy
The history of light therapy is pretty incredible. The Faroese physician and scientist Niels Ryberg Finsen began experimenting with light therapy in the late 1800s because he himself suffered from a neurodegenerative disease and noticed he felt better after sitting in the sunshine. This sparked his interest in the potential of light therapy. He received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1903 for his pioneering use of light therapy as a bactericidal as well as a general stimulating effect on muscle tissue.
Photobiomodulation that is used today began to be developed in the 1960s. Doctors and scientists researched the use of light energy to understand the interaction between electromagnetic energy and biological tissue. They referred to this form of therapy in a variety of ways, including low level laser therapy and cold laser therapy. In the 21st century, physicians were concerned that these terms could be misleading or confusing to patients and didn’t accurately describe the biological process of the therapy. In 2016 the National Library of Medicine added the term “photobiomodulation therapy” to its controlled vocabulary thesaurus.
Although photobiomodulation is backed by decades of scientific research, it still remains a relatively unknown treatment to the general public.
“At my family-owned clinic, we want to utilize the very best technology and therapy to help our patients,” said Dr. Graffeo. “We are dedicated to the mission of helping heal the body without addictive medication, and photobiomodulation is a wonderful therapy to do just that.”
Do you have questions about photobiomodulation, chiropractic care or injury treatment? You can receive a complimentary consultation at Graffeo Chiropractic Clinic. Just give us a call at 503-255-5522 to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our licensed chiropractors.
Interested in learning more about the medical science behind chiropractic? Check out Does Chiropractic Treatment Work?