Woman with back pain. [Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan]
Back pain is estimated to affect up to 80% of people at some stage of their lives. For many, it’s a passing problem, but for others it can become a debilitating condition that affects everyday health and well-being.
But for many people, a daily dose of painkilling drugs is the only treatment that has any real impact. Taking painkillers every day not only carries risks, but also masks the symptoms of a back problem instead of curing it.
Cold laser therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy, is a safe, effective treatment increasingly used to combat the effects of back pain.
How It Works
The key player in laser back pain therapy is a low-powered laser beam with a wavelength that allows it to pass through the skin and to the tissues beneath. Similar to infrared treatments, the idea is that the energy of the beam stimulates the natural healing mechanisms in the inflamed tissues. However, laser therapy penetrates more deeply into the muscles, joints and ligaments of the lower back instead of treating only the surface tissues.
During the treatment, the therapist applies the laser to the problem areas for 30 seconds to a few minutes. As the tissue inflammation subsides, the pressure on pain-producing nerves is reduced, and the back pain can be brought under greater control. In time, many patients see significant improvements in mobility and a noticeable decrease in discomfort.
Four Strong Advantages
Compared with most other back therapies, laser treatment has the following benefits:
• Laser treatment involves no drugs, so there’s no risk of experiencing pharmaceutical side effects or of developing a dependency.
• The treatment is noninvasive and has no known physical side effects.
• Laser therapy can boost the benefits of other physical treatments, including exercise and manipulation, to reduce long-term pain and movement restrictions.
• Treatment sessions are short, require no specific preparation and have no aftereffects, meaning they can fit into any schedule with minimal disruption.
Three Potential Drawbacks
There are potential problems.
First, significant, lasting pain relief could take multiple treatments, and you might not see immediate results. Second, not all health plans or medical insurance policies cover this kind of treatment. Third, back pain can have many underlying causes, and laser treatment might not work for you.
Nonetheless, if you’ve tried other back pain treatments and found them to be lacking, consider talking to your chiropractor or general physician about laser back therapy.