If knee pain is kicking you down, it can feel like answers and solutions are hard to come by when speaking with doctors. If the idea of knee surgery has been brought up, you’re understandably reluctant. You also don’t like the idea of relying on pain medication to be able to do the things you love to do without pain. Laser therapy for knee pain is providing new options to people living with knee pain. In studies, patients receiving laser therapy experienced “significant and long-lasting pain relief” when compared to placebo groups.
Living With Knee Pain? This Might Be the Reason!
Knee pain can be tough to diagnose. In some cases, you’re actually aware of when the injury happened because you felt pain or heard a “pop” while you were engaging in an activity. However, some people simply begin to feel soreness, stiffness, and pain in their knees without explanation. Here’s a look at some common causes of knee pain:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries.
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears.
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) tears.
- Meniscus tears.
- Cartilage injuries.
- Patellar tendon tears.
- Knee arthritis/osteoarthritis.
Causes of knee pain and injury are all over the board. For some people, healthy tissue undergoes trauma during an injury. This is most common with athletes who are injured during games and performances. Repetitive pressure can also cause knee pain. It’s also possible to have underlying or degenerative conditions that cause the tissue that supports the knee to break down. Laser therapy for knee pain is used for both knee injuries and diseases. In fact, researchers have determined that laser therapy is an especially effective form of treatment for “chronic knee pain caused by knee osteoarthritis.”
How Does Laser Therapy Help With Knee Pain?
Laser therapy brings both pain relief and healing. First, it is believed that laser therapy helps to improve circulation and spark cell regeneration. Researchers also believe that lasers stimulate the “feel-good” hormones called endorphins that act as the body’s own natural painkillers. The long-term benefit of laser therapy is that it actually stimulates the growth of new tissue in your body! While options like surgery are focused on “removing” the source of the pain, laser therapy is a holistic treatment focused on getting your knee back to where it was prior to your injury.
What Is the Laser Therapy That’s Used for Knee Pain?
During cold laser therapy, a laser is passed over the knee for a short period of time to stimulate cellular activity. While they emit wavelengths, these lasers do not cause burning or tissue injury. Your specific laser treatment will be tailored to ensure that the wavelength used is capable of penetrating the tissue layer that is damaged.
Photons of light that “awaken” the mitochondria of the cells are absorbed into your tissue during laser therapy. The energy that is created at the cellular level spurs cell repair. This process also helps to reduce the inflammation that is causing pain while preventing healing in your knee. Laser therapy also helps to stimulate circulation in the injured area to help to restore blood flow and oxygen. This alone can help to relieve pain and tension even before the complete long-term healing effects of the laser can be felt!
What to Expect During a Laser Therapy Appointment
Laser therapy is considered to be a safe and effective treatment for knee pain that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While it uses state-of-the-art technology, laser therapy is actually a very simple in-office procedure. Your clinician will use a small handheld device that is placed directly over your knee. Most people don’t feel anything during laser treatments. Others do experience some sensations or feelings of discomfort that are generally not considered painful. Each application of the laser can last anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. A complete laser therapy appointment often takes less than 30 minutes. Once your session is over, you can simply leave the office to get back to your life!
Several laser treatments are typically required to produce results. While you may feel instant pain relief due to reduced inflammation and better circulation after the first session, it’s still important to keep going to get the full benefit. In most cases, a “cluster” of laser treatments will be scheduled for you over the course of several weeks to a month. It’s not uncommon to have several treatments done in a row in a single week when you first begin laser therapy. Many people experience permanent results that do not require maintenance after completing a full round of laser therapy for knee pain.
What Are the Benefits of Laser Therapy for Knee Pain?
The biggest benefit to getting laser therapy for knee pain is that you may be able to live without pain again! For many people, laser therapy is a real breakthrough for obtaining a full range of motion. Here’s a look at some of the other benefits of choosing laser therapy to treat knee pain over other options:
- This is a noninvasive, nonsurgical option without any incisions or scarring.
- There’s no need to take time off from work when doing laser therapy. You can even book appointments on your lunch break!
- Treatments are done in the office.
- There is no recovery time or downtime.
- There’s no risk of infection like there is with surgery.
- No pain medication is needed for laser treatments.
- Many patients feel better right away.
- Unlike pharmaceutical solutions, laser therapy produces long-lasting/permanent results.
- No side effects when performed properly.
Laser therapy isn’t something that “heals” your body. What it actually does is prompt your body to heal itself by activating cellular activity. This is a great option if you’d like to try to give your body a chance to heal before you resort to surgery. If you’ve had knee surgery before, you don’t necessarily have to rule out laser therapy. This treatment is commonly used to treat post-surgical pain.
How Long Have People Been Using Laser Therapy to Treat Knee Pain?
Developed in the 1960s, laser therapy has been commonly used by physicians to treat sports injuries and pain since the 1990s. It has grown increasingly popular in recent years as more and more people have become interested in healing injuries without surgery. Many people who have witnessed poor outcomes for knee surgery among friends and family are turning to laser therapy as a holistic, low-risk way to get rid of knee pain. Laser therapy has received endorsements as a pain-relief treatment from both the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Health. One theme that is repeated time and time again in studies is that laser therapy does not produce any notable negative side effects.
Are There Any Negatives to Getting Laser Therapy for Knee Pain?
As a low-risk, high-impact treatment option for people suffering from knee pain, the positive column is pretty strong for laser therapy. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind as you explore this option. First, it often takes several weeks to experience complete relief. You may also need to complete several sessions each week during your treatment. While insurance companies are increasingly adding laser therapy as a covered item, there’s no guarantee that your insurance will cover your treatments. Of course, it’s possible that paying for laser therapy out of pocket will still be less expensive than a covered knee surgery.
Should I Get Laser Therapy for Knee Pain?
This is a treatment option worth looking into if you’re living with knee pain that isn’t going away with conventional treatments. In many cases, trying manual adjustments, sports therapy, or physical therapy prior to receiving laser treatments can be advisable because these therapies often create much more powerful results than at-home techniques like stretching and icing. However, it’s important to note that people suffering from pain don’t have to choose “one or the other” when it comes to holistic treatments for knee injuries. In fact, research shows that combining laser treatments with manual therapies actually produces better results than either can produce on their own!
The gentle nature of laser therapy means that there’s no conflict between laser treatments and other natural treatments. Unlike surgery, laser therapy doesn’t put you at risk for wounds or injuries that can be caused by working out too soon. That means that you’re free to explore various exercises and manual therapies while you’re undergoing your laser treatments.