We get a lot of questions about laser therapy and if your brain is like Aunty Helen’s, your first question might be along the lines of, “But if it’s light that you can’t see, doesn’t that mean it’s dark?”
Fear not, dear friend! There’s hope for those of us who don’t at first understand how laser works!
You see, LASER actually stands for Light Amplified by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation and light is actually tiny little electromagnetic waves, which vibrate up and down like itty bitty little waves in the ocean:
As you can see in this picture (source: www.wwu.edu) different colours of light have waves of different lengths. Our laser machine simultaneously emits two different wavelengths – 810nm and 980nm (i.e. both of them are darker than dark red, which is known as “infrared”). Because they’re two different lengths, they pass through the skin a little bit out of sync and bump into the cells under the skin in a way that kind of makes them dance.
Now, if the laser bumps into a ‘happy’ cell, the happy cell does a happy dance and the laser just moves on through, as such. But if the laser bumps into ‘grumpy’ cells, those cells absorb some of the energy from the light, which sets off a chemical reaction.
What sort of chemical reaction is set off depends on what sort of cell has absorbed some of the light energy, for example:
- if the cell is a fibroblast, it will be stimulated to produce collagen, which is a key ingredient of tissues like ligaments. In this way, laser can be used to help heal ligament injuries (see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16356146)
- if the cell is a macrophage or a phagocyte, it will be stimulated to eat things like viruses and bacteria (eww…)
- if the cell is a mast cell, it will be stimulated to degranulate, which means that it will jump into action in its role in the inflammatory process (as physios, we’re taught this is a good thing because it gets the inflammation over and done with sooner)
Laser can also be used to stimulate endorphin production and blood vessel growth, and can modify immune responses, and many other cool things (yes – we really are that nerdy that we think laser is cool!)
What does this all mean, though, for those of us who are on the receiving end of laser?
While we could answer this question with many examples of the people who have benefited from our laser machine, we thought you might like these instead:
For this little Cavvie friend, it meant that we could stimulate his nervous system and circulation so that he was more alert and more able to participate in walking lessons.
For this greyhound friend, it meant that we could help her amputation wound heal faster and relieve her pain.
For this boxer friend, it meant that we could stretch his tight muscles and stiff joints much more effectively and less painfully.
We’ve also been able to help lots of other furry friends, as well as many humans (including our own staff) with various aches and pains, so if you’re wondering if laser might help you, please contact us on (02) 9833 3363 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you have.