When it comes to chronic pain treatment and management, many patients have tried it all.
From exercise to injections to surgeries, some chronic pain conditions may feel incurable. Until now. A relatively new type of treatment is making waves and starting conversations all around the pain community: Mls Laser Therapy. MLS laser therapy, also sometimes referred to as cold laser therapy (but only when utilized as specified below), is creating much discussion in the pain treatment community, but without much evidence of efficacy beyond the anecdotal.
Multiwave lock system (MLS) laser therapy uses two therapeutic wavelengths – 808 nanometer (anti-edemic and anti-inflammatory) and 905 nanometer (analgesic) – to reach deeper into tissues and nerves that are affected by pain and inflammation. According to Dr. Jean Santo, a pain management specialist and anesthesiologist, these synchronized wavelengths cause a metabolic reaction in the cells that stimulates healing and pain relief.
In general, all laser therapy treatments work in essentially the same manner, according to doctor of chiropractic Dr. Phil Harrington, who trained at Palmer College of Chiropractic:
“By stimulating the cytochrome oxidase enzyme, we are utilizing that oxygen in the respiratory chain inside of the mitochondria, producing more ATP for that cell. So regardless of what kind of cell it is, it’s going to function at a higher level. Now, we are not turbocharging. We’re not making your body do anything that it could not normally do. We’re just facilitating the process. We are helping those cells produce the energy that they normally would, so they can function as they normally should.”
Lasers are, essentially, helping the cell to complete a natural process that has, for some reason, stalled or slowed.
MLS laser therapy uses higher-powered Class 4 lasers. In some cases, laser treatments may use lasers similar to what you might find in a laser pointer. This is not a strong enough laser to be therapeutic. And unlike the type of lasers used to remove tattoos and other surgical or dermatological processes that pin pointedly focus on one area, MLS lasers have a wider range that allows them to spread deeply into the tissues of the body.
Combining the two wavelengths in an MLS laser offers the power of pain relief with an anti-inflammatory action. Lasers increase circulation in the treatment area, sending oxygen and blood to the painful region. This increased circulation and blood flow stimulates tissue healing, cell repair, and healthy tissue growth.
MLS laser therapy is indicated primarily for musculoskeletal pain, including:
- Muscle strains, sprains, and tears
- Arthritis and other degenerating joint conditions
- Slipped or bulging discs
- Spinal compression
- Injuries to the soft tissues
- Pre- and post-surgical pain
Other benefits may include things like improved nerve function and immunoregulation.
Another type of laser therapy, K laser therapy, adds a third wavelength to the treatment at 970 nanometers. Proponents of this treatment believe that this third wavelength is the most efficient way to increase microcirculation in the cells. In addition to the above conditions, K laser therapy is recommended for:
- Repetitive use injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Traumatic injury
- Acute injury
- Frozen shoulder
Both MLS laser therapy and K laser therapy are FDA-approved, but not necessarily as a pain-relieving treatments.
K lasers are approved as a warming device only, and MLS is still viewed as experimental. Both MLS and K laser treatments are usually not covered by insurance, but some doctors such as Dr. Santo offer a cash option for treatment. Dr. Santo charges $60 for each treatment, a price that is, for some, worth every penny. Lisa Knott, one of Dr. Santo’s patients, suffered from hip and back pain since high school until trying MLS laser therapy treatments. She found pain relief and increased mobility on the same day of the treatment.
All of these benefits sound impressive, but there is very little scientific evidence to support the claims made by both patients and doctors. This does not necessarily mean that the treatment is ineffective, but rather that patients should proceed with caution and pay very close attention to the way their pain responds. They should also always talk to their primary pain doctors before trying any new therapies or treatments.
MLS laser treatments may vary, from one treatment a week for six weeks to several treatments a week for a shorter period of time. Side effects are virtually non-existent as the laser is non-invasive and not designed to physically pierce the skin.
It is difficult to say definitively whether or not MLS laser therapy is a viable treatment option for chronic pain. The best way to approach this treatment is in conversation with your doctor. If you or someone you love has suffered from refractory chronic pain with little relief regardless of treatment, it may be worth it to give MLS laser therapy a try.
What do you think about this potential chronic pain treatment?
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