How Does Laser Acupuncture Work and How Can It Help You?
Results from these treatments have been very favorable for both acute and chronic conditions (i.e. pain anywhere in the body)! The use of laser light in laser acupuncture and laser meridian treatments is fast, safe, painless and effective.
Multiple published studies have shown good effects of laser acupuncture for many conditions, including, but not limited to, the following:
Acute, Chronic Pain & Inflammation
Arthritis, (general and Rheumatoid)
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Post-operative nausea and vomiting
Wound healing and scar reduction
A laser acupuncturist typically aims a beam of light from a laser tube onto an acupuncture point, stimulating it similar to the way acupuncture needles do. The visible red laser beam, radiating from helium and neon gases, usually heats up the point. During the procedure, a practitioner may hold the beam steadily for a period that can range from ten seconds to a maximum of two minutes. The duration of the beam usually depends on the tissue the laser must penetrate through, and the power (measured in joules) the acupuncturist needs to apply to a point. Sometimes, a practitioner may also have to use invisible infrared lasers.
Laser acupuncture is primarily used to serve two purposes: an anesthetic effect and the stimulation of acupuncture points in a therapeutic program. The procedure has some distinct advantages over the traditional needle method. Many patients who just don't like needles, prefer the lasers. Use of a laser makes it a typically noninvasive, aseptic procedure, which significantly reduces the pain and recovery time associated with invasive treatments. Generally, this method can also treat the same range of complaints as needle acupuncture.
How Will the Laser Feel?
Perhaps the greatest advantage of laser acupuncture is that it's completely painless. Most patients feel nothing at all during laser acupuncture. Occasionally a patient will state that something is felt, but it isn't something that can be easily described. I believe they are feeling an energetic shift in their body. Some even describe an energetic sensation propagating along the meridian being treated.
With laser treatment, the acupuncture point is stimulated for a number of seconds, depending upon the power and output of the laser being used, and then move on to the next point. It's fast and easy. We're talking seconds in comparison to needle retention time, which may be 20 to 30 minutes.
Because the skin is not compromised as with acupuncture needles, there is zero risk of infection. Laser acupuncture is also effective and often shown to be as effective as needle acupuncture for a variety of problems. Effectiveness is enhanced because laser acupuncture allows you to treat points you otherwise might not be able to treat, due to patient age, sensitivity, or fear.
History of Laser Treatment
Laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The term Laser Bio-stimulation refers to the use of low-powered laser to stimulate local areas or points on the skin.
Scientists began lab experimentation with lasers in the 1950s, with availability outside the lab in the 1960s. Once the quest for laser knowledge began, it was unstoppable. Researchers wanted to know how this new kind of light could change the world of healthcare. Early laser experiments resulted in the realization that laser therapy minimized skin scarring, helped wounds heal faster, and affected cellular metabolism.
In the 1970s serious research began both in Russia and in the USA. By the 1980s, due to numerous positive reports, laser started to gain recognition as an effective method of stimulating acupuncture points without the use of needles. Laser acupuncture is practiced widely throughout Europe and Asia and is quickly gaining popularity in the United States.
Current Developments & Research
Most lasers used in acupuncture are known as low-level lasers or "cold lasers," (because they don't produce heat.). These are not the same as lasers used for laser surgery, in which "hot lasers" are used as a scalpel to burn or cut. Studies show that low-level lasers can help regenerate cells, decrease pain, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and stimulate hair growth, to name a few examples.
Recent studies on laser acupuncture have included advanced brain imaging, as well as several other modern protocols for measuring various physiological effects to the body. These studies show that laser acupuncture has physiological effects, not only locally, but also in the brain, similar to needle acupuncture. For example, an experiment was done with a laser light placed on an acupuncture point on the little toe (BL67) while the patient was receiving a MRI, and it showed measurable effects in the brain. The effects were only detected when the laser was turned on. When the laser was turned off, no effects were detected.
Research has demonstrated significant results with cold laser therapy, often times far exceeding those obtained with traditional needles, from the use of low power (635 – 690nm) laser therapy stimulation of acupuncture and energy points. When these points are stimulated, sympathetic and other afferents (nerves that conduct impulses to the spinal cord) transmit information to the central nervous system.
Researchers have demonstrated therapeutic changes to the central and peripheral nervous systems in patients following laser therapy. The laser penetrates the epidermis, dermis and sub-cutaneous layers, entering the flexor tendons and surrounding tissue. Along its path the laser deposits photons into the cells. Nerve stimulation is immediate. Within minutes microcirculation is improved bringing increased oxygen and blood flow into the area. The laser beam also blocks pain enzymes and activates the synthesis of endorphin enzymes.
Biologically, the laser light will increase the cell production rate in connective, tendinous and cartilaginous tissue. In addition, the laser beam has the capability of increasing the rate of regeneration of nerve cells and will not stimulate bacterial growth or cancerous tissue.