The “Cold Laser” is used to enhance tissue recovery and advance/speed up injury healing time. 3LT or Low Level Laser Therapy promotes healing in many conditions, including chronic/acute pain, wound healing and other joint and neurological conditions.

The world of elite athletes and professional sports teams depend on the Erchonia Cold Laser for its rapid and effective recovery properties. Many professional teams including the New York Jets, New England Patriots, Philadelphia 76ers, Kansas City Chiefs, Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL, and the US Postal Service cycling team, use Erchonia to enhance the treatment and recovery of their players.

What is 3LT – Low Level Laser Therapy?

Low Level Laser Therapy (3LT) refers to the modality of applying a “low” energy or “low level” laser to tissue that stimulates cellular processes and thereby enhancing biochemical reactions. For example, studies show that LLLT increases ATP production in the mitochondria of the cell. Since more energy is now available, the cell may utilize this fuel to function or operate more efficiently.

Most people are familiar with high power lasers that are used in a surgical setting to heat to cut or cauterize tissue; low-level lasers or “cold” lasers bio-stimulate tissue through biochemical reactions in the target tissue. Photonic-energy in the form of laser light passes through the skin, and activates photoreceptors at the cellular level. The increase in intra-cellular energy results in altered cell membrane permeability, and physiological changes occur through an enzyme cascade to affect several biological processes. When targeting a patient’s dysfunctional or injured soft tissue, low-level laser energy initiates an increase in microcirculation and enhanced tissue regeneration. The overall effects are decreased pain and inflammation, and increased mobility. While laser treatment alone is an excellent option for injured patients and athletic performance, combining various forms of advanced needling techniques with laser therapy has proven to be an integral part of the rapid results patients experience here in the practice.

Cold lasers have been in use for over 25 years, with over 2000 published research studies, not one of which has ever recorded a side effect. At Denver Sport & Spine® we only use Erchonia Laser, which made history in laser-therapeutics by becoming the first to receive FDA approval for chronic pain treatment.

How does it work?

Many theories exist as to the mechanism of action for Low Level Laser Therapy(3LT) but simply put, photonic energy is absorbed by the photo acceptor sites on the cell membrane which trigger a secondary messenger to initiate a cascade of intracellular signals that initiate, inhibit or accelerate biological processes such as wound healing, inflammation, or pain management.

What conditions can be treated?

Low Level Laser Therapy (3LT) has been successfully used to treat many conditions such as acute and chronic pain reduction, repetitive use disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, soft tissue strains and sprains, inflammation reduction, enhanced tissue wound healing, and cell regeneration.
Are there any side effects?

There are over 1500 published studies and not one of them mentions any negative side effects of semi-conductor diode lasers at the 5mW range like the Erchonia 3LT Lasers. Low Level Lasers are safe, non-toxic and non-invasive, there has not been a recorded side effect in over 1700 publications. There are some nessecary common sense precautions that need to be considered, such as avoiding pointing the laser beam directly into the eye and maintating it there, which could prove to be damaging to the eye.

What makes one laser different from another?

A laser can differ in its wavelength, power source or whether it is a continuous or pulsed wave form. The first lasers were used to cut, cauterize or ablate tissue and were classified as “hot’ lasers. “Cold”, “Low Energy” or “Low Level” lasers are used to enhance metabolic activity at the cellular level through non-thermal reactions.

What is wavelength? And do the different wavelengths matter?

Light is measured in wavelengths and is expressed in units of nanometers (nm). Different wavelengths have different energy levels and can have various effects on tissue. For example, the Erchonia 3LT Laser is 635 nanometers, which is found within the “red” spectrum of visible light (400-800 nm) and has anabolic tissue effects, whereas, radiation that has a wavelength shorter than 320 nm (ultraviolet (UV), gamma rays, x-rays) has ionizing effects on cells and can be harmful even in small doses.

What is the difference between Lasers and LED’s (light emitting diodes)?

Lasers are monochromatic (single color wavelength), collimated (non-divergent) and coherent (wavelengths in- phase) in contrast, LED’s are neither coherent nor collimated and generate a broader band of wavelengths (multiple). In addition, a significant difference between the two is the power output. The peak power output of lasers is measured in watts, while that of LED’s, is measured in milliwatts. Also, LED’s usually have a 50% duty cycle, meaning that they are “on” 50% of the time and “off” 50% of the time regardless of what frequency (pulses per second) setting is used.

There are many light emitting products on the market today, claiming to be lasers that do not meet scientifically defined attributes for being a true laser. For example, products that use Light Emitting Diodes or LED’s as they are more commonly known, do in fact produce light, however the light is not intense, producing very little energy and is non-coherent, similar to light produced by common household light bulbs. Non-coherent or non-culminated light is the result of photons moving in random directions at random times, generating random frequencies. The most common use of LED’s is in electronic equipment, such as cell phones and VCRs, to inform the users that the item is ON. LED’s are cheap and easy to reproduce (Pontinen 1992). Obviously, these devices are NOT lasers. This misconception is in large part a by-product of marketing. Some sales professional use the word “laser” in order to describe a process such as in “laser pointers” which refers more to mankind’s collective imagination than scientific comprehension.

Do you need FDA market clearance to sell these devices?

Erchonia Medical Lasers made history on January 17, 2002 by being the first Low Level Laser manufacturer to be given marketing clearance as Adjunctive Use in Pain Therapy for the treatment of chronic neck and shoulder pain. Although Low Level Lasers typically fall into the “non-significant” risk category, there are many lasers that have been used in the Veterinarian market that are being sold illegally for human use.

Terry Weyman, D.C., C.C.S.P.

Interested to learn more?

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Gridley to learn more about Low Level Laser Treatment techniques.

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