Cold laser therapy is a form of medical treatment that involves the use of a low intensity laser to address pain and inflammation. This treatment is generally classified as experimental or investigational, because the benefits are still the subject of debate. Many proponents of this technique make a number of claims about its efficacy, and patients would be well-advised to evaluate these claims critically and seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before embarking on any treatments.
The underlying science behind cold laser therapy is valid, as studies have shown that light of certain wavelengths can reduce pain and inflammation. Lasers can offer very focused beams of light that can be used to target specific areas, which means that in theoretical use, a low intensity laser calibrated to emit light of a specific wavelength could potentially be used very effectively to treat areas of inflammation on the body. Like all medical devices, however, cold lasers need to be carefully evaluated for safety and efficacy.
Other terms are used to refer to this treatment include low power laser therapy (LPLT), low level laser therapy (LLLT), biostimulation, soft laser, and laser acupuncture. In all cases, the technique involves exposing the skin to targeted laser beams for set periods of time and at set intervals. The light is supposed to stimulate damaged cells to promote healing and a reduction in inflammation and pain. The “cold” refers not the temperature of the laser, but to the fact that the laser is of low intensity, unlike the high intensity lasers that can burn the skin.
Some practitioners of acupuncture have suggested that cold laser therapy could be used much like acupuncture and acupressure, with the beams of the laser targeting specific points on the body. These individuals rely on their training and experience to support their beliefs, since the stimulation of pressure points can be used to treat a number of conditions treatable with acupuncture.
Medical professionals generally recommend cold laser treatments as part of an overall pain management program. For people dealing with chronic pain, it is an option that could be used to reduce the pain, while people with persistent inflammations may also benefit. This therapy should not be undertaken without medical supervision, however, and it is generally not recommended as a replacement for other forms of medical treatment, such as the use of physical therapy to manage chronic pain.