Laser Therapy and Joint Pain
Laser therapy is highly effective at treating a number of different orthopedic conditions, including reducing joint pain and inflammation. And unlike medications, laser therapy isn’t a stop-gap treatment because it actually repairs damaged tissue.
The basics of laser therapy
There is solid science behind using low-level laser therapy as a treatment for pain and inflammation. Laser therapy targets an enzyme known as Cytochrome C Oxidase, which is found in the mitochondria of all cells. When this Cytochrome C Oxidase absorbs light, it triggers a reaction in the oxidative respiratory chain, which is the chemical reaction that produces ATP.
When a joint becomes inflamed, an increased amount of nitrous oxide binds itself to the Cytochrome C Oxidase, thereby reducing the amount of oxygen available for use by the cells. During low-level laser therapy, this light is absorbed by the Cytochrome C Oxidase, thus displacing the nitrous oxide entirely. That means oxygen is free to be used for ATP production, so metabolism increases and inflammation gradually diminishes.
Benefits of laser therapy
Given the fact that no surgical incision is required for low-level laser therapy, it qualifies as a non-invasive procedure. This means there is no recovery time associated with it, and patients are generally able to move about freely, even right after treatment. There are also no side effects related to undergoing laser therapy, although some patients have reported a tingling sensation for up to a few hours afterward.
Perhaps the best advantage of using laser therapy is that it’s much more like a cure than a temporary solution because it’s able to repair damaged tissue. Another tremendous benefit of using low-level laser therapy is that it reduces or eliminates the need to take potentially addictive drugs to manage pain.
At a Glance
Ronak M. Patel M.D.
- Double Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Orthopaedic Surgeon
- Past Team Physician to the Cavaliers (NBA), Browns (NFL) and Guardians (MLB)
- Published over 49 publications and 10 book chapters
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