Laser therapy for back treatment is based on the concept that the light energy emitted by a laser can help relieve pain and inflammation, relax muscles, fasten the healing of damaged tissues, and stimulate nerve regeneration. Low-level and cold laser therapy is a type of treatment that employs specific light wavelengths to interact with tissues and accelerate the healing process. It can be effective on patients who suffer from acute and chronic conditions to mitigate swelling, pain, minimise spasms and accelerate functionality.

Treatment of lower back pain is more in demand than ever. Many people start experiencing back pain problems as they get older due to weak, unused muscles in their back and lack of exercise. Others experience back pain due to lifestyle effects like sitting in the office for long hours and using a computer in a hunched position.  Fortunately, laser therapy has shown some promises of success in treating back pain.

How does laser therapy work in back pain treatment?

The wavelength and power determine the capacity of the laser energy to penetrate your body and promote healing. Two types of laser classes are helpful in physical therapy which is class 3 and 4. Usually, class 3 lasers utilise less than 500 milliwatts, while class 4 lasers utilize more than 500 milliwatts. Class 3 lasers are referred to as cold lasers or low-level lasers for low-level therapy. Class 4 lasers are called high-power laser therapy. You can watch these professional laser videos to get more of an idea about them.

Many neuro-musculoskeletal conditions, including back pain, respond to either low-level laser therapy or high power laser therapy. The best results are obtained with a laser with 30 watts or more. For instance, a 10 minute treatment with a 30 watt laser will produce 18000 joules which is enough to trigger pain relief, reduce swelling and promote a healing effect.

Patients usually begin feeling relieved after one or two treatments, but up to five sessions are required to treat the problem fully. Generally, the more extensive and chronic the pain is, the more laser therapy sessions are needed to resolve the problem.

How do cold lasers treat back pain?

A cold laser is a handheld device mostly the size of a flashlight. The doctor focuses it directly on the affected area, such as the lower back or an injured muscle, for 30 seconds to more minutes depending on the extent of the pain or injury. The time the therapy takes also depends on the power the laser emits per second.

During laser therapy, non-thermal photons of light emitted from the laser enter the skin layers from the dermis, epidermis to the subcutaneous tissue under the skin. The light can penetrate 2-5centimeters into the skin at 90milliwatts. When the light gets to the target area, it interacts with the light-sensitive elements in the cell then initiates a series of events.

These events are theorised to normalise damaged tissue, reduce pain, inflammation, edema and reduce the healing time by boosting intracellular metabolism. This kind of laser therapy treats various conditions like back pain, knee pain, tendon pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Osteoarthritis can also be helped by lasers.

The bottom line

For several years, doctors have been using laser therapy as an alternative method for pain relief. The Bone and Joint Decade reviewed the effectiveness of cold laser therapy in the 2000-2018 task force conducted by scientists. They concluded that low-level laser therapy could be a helpful treatment for certain types of pain that interfere with an individual’s daily activities.