Once upon a time, lasers were simply the stuff of science fiction, but today, they are used for many applications. One such use is low level laser therapy (specifically the MLS Laser) to enhance chiropractic care for patients. Learn how low level laser therapy helps at Quality Care Chiropractic with a condition called rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a progressive inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. The attack happens mostly in the joints of the hands and feet and causes redness, pain, and swelling that leads to irreversible damage and functional impairment.
Rheumatoid arthritis is difficult to diagnose in the early stages because symptoms mimic other diseases. During a physical exam, the doctor checks joints for swelling, redness, and warmth as well as tests reflexes and muscle strength, but no one blood test or finding confirms the condition. People may show an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate or C-reactive protein level, which indicate the inflammatory process. Common blood tests look for the rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies. Doctors also may recommend X-rays to track the progress of RA in joints over time, and MRI and ultrasound tests help doctors judge the disease’s severity.
While there is no cure for RA, various drug and nondrug treatments, like therapy and surgery, are used to relieve pain and swelling. Clinical studies indicate that symptom remission is more likely when treatment with medications begins early, but long-term exposure carries moderate to severe side effects.
Medications: The medications prescribed depend on the symptom severity and how long the patient has had RA.
Therapy: Doctors may suggest physical or occupational therapy for exercises that help keep joints flexible. Therapists may suggest alternative ways to do daily tasks that are easier on the joints or assistive devices, like a kitchen knife with a hand grip or a buttonhook.
Surgery: If medication and therapies fail, surgery is considered for repairing damaged joints, reducing pain, and improving function. RA surgeries include synovectomy (removing the inflamed joint lining), tendon repair, joint fusion, or total joint replacement (with metal or plastic prosthetics). However, all these options carry the risk of bleeding, infection, pain, and a lengthy recovery.
Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT): LLLT is a noninvasive, non drug treatment that decreases swelling and pain with minimal side effects. Without heat, the laser emits pure light that causes photochemical reactions in targeted cells. The quality of the laser plays a significant factor; at Quality Care Chiropractic, the powerful and effective MLS Laser is used to reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
As opposed to the standard care of immunosuppressive medications with undesirable toxicity, LLLT is a unique, noninvasive approach that offers minimal side effects. Although it needs to be studied further as a therapy for RA and other skin and joint diseases to determine its efficacy and how it can modify disease progression, given its noninvasive nature and anti-inflammatory effects, LLLT is promising for significant immediate pain relief and improved function. Relatively inexpensive and accessible, it could be used by the patient at home and should be considered for short-term relief from the pain and morning stiffness of RA.
The known effects of LLLT support its use for anti-inflammatory purposes and stimulation of tissue growth and repair. Current research shows that it could play a major role in reducing the immune response leading to joint destruction and debilitation.
Studies collectively show that laser therapy decreases pain and morning stiffness and increases hand flexibility at least for the short term, but there is inconclusive proof about long-lasting effects. Some evidence shows that longer administration times and shorter wavelengths produce better effects.
More research is needed because of the variables in laser treatments, including laser power and wavelength, duration and frequency of treatments, and specific body areas to which the laser is applied. Further studies need to be more rigorous and standardized to help draw strong conclusions about the efficacy of LLLT.
“Part of the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is to address diet, exercise, and nutritional supplements,” notes Dr. Rick Gross of Quality Care Chiropractic. “With autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, full treatment must involve all aspects of a person’s health, not just short-term pain relief. The MLS Laser works very well for pain relief, but some of these studies show minimal or no long-term benefit because the trial did not include the patient’s lifestyle management, such as adding an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, or supplements to reduce inflammation.”
If you or anyone you know is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and are curious to learn more about MLS Laser treatments, contact us at Quality Care Chiropractic in Aurora, IL, at (630) 499-2225. We can answer your questions and help you make your way back to whole-body health.
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