What is Laser Therapy?

by Brad Hayman, DPM, Complete Foot & Ankle Care

One of the best things about living in Prescott, is the four mild climates we enjoy. This sets the stage for outdoor activities year-round. So, whether you are a runner, cyclist, hiker, golfer, tennis or pickleball player, or you just walk your dog in your neighborhood, you know the importance of staying active and mobile, and hopefully, staying pain-free. 

If, however, you do experience an injury, or simply have chronic joint or muscle pain, an innovative therapy has gained popularity in recent years as providers (and veterinarians) discover its benefits.

This therapy is called laser therapy, which stands for “light amplification of stimulated emission of radiation,” and refers to a unit that emits focused, penetrating light beams. I mention veterinarians because lasers were first introduced in this specialty to treat horses and dogs who had injuries. 

Lasers are classified based on their wavelength and potential energy output: 

  • Class I lasers, such as barcode scanners used in supermarkets, are used safely every day. 
  • Class 2 lasers, which include laser pointers and some therapeutic lasers, produce a beam in the visible spectrum (400-1070 nanometers). 
  • Class 3 lasers include the most commonly used therapeutic lasers. 
  • Class 4 lasers cause thermal injury to tissues and include surgical lasers to cut and cauterize tissue during surgical procedures. 
  • The Multiwave Locked System (MLS) is a patented system, a Class 4 laser synchronized without the risk of thermal damage. 

The main clinical benefits of laser use include decreased inflammation, decreased pain and improved wound healing. Laser beams of lower wavelengths are absorbed by superficial tissue, such as the skin, whereas beams of higher wavelengths penetrate deeper to muscles and bones. 

Anyone can benefit whether you have chronic pain and inflammation from arthritis, or more acute inflammation related to recent surgery, tendon, ligament or muscle strains or traumatic injuries. Laser therapy is also being administered for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. 

Treatments are painless and generally last between 10 and 30 minutes per session. Typically, treatment plans recommend between six and 10 treatments. 

Podiatry has been one of the first specialties to recognize the value of this non-invasive, state-of-the-art innovation. In its holistic approach to health care, podiatry sees the value of keeping patients mobile and active no matter what their level of activity.