Low Level Light Laser Therapy (LLLT)

RACM blue light laser acupuncture

Low Level Light Laser Therapy (LLLT) is used in laser acupuncture treatment at RACM Sydney to provide a pain free acupuncture treatment alternative to using fine needles. All ‘Conditions Treated’ with acupuncture and fine needles can be treated with laser acupuncture as well.

LLLT can also:

  • Speed up healing and recovery after surgery and injury,
  • Promote relaxation of muscles to reduce pain and tension,
  • Reduce swelling associated with injury,
  • Relieve pain generally, including muscle and joint pain,
  • Improve mobility and daily activity range,
  • Relieve stiffness and reduce inflammation.

BACKGROUND

While research on laser therapy was recognised as early as 1903, it was not until the 1970’s that research intensified in the USSR, USA, and China. This research became known as ‘photobiology’, the study of how light affects living things, including humans, cells, plants, and animals.

Laser acupuncture developed after studies showed that laser light only traveled along the acupuncture meridian pathways, just like a fibre optic network in the body, which could then be monitored by a sensitive photon detector. Through brain imaging recent studies have shown that laser acupuncture has a physiological impact both locally, and also in the brain. For example, only when the laser is turned on and used on an acupuncture point could a corresponding response be observed in the brain during imaging. Turn the laser off, and the brain response stopped as well.

Apart from the therapeutic applications, laser acupuncture is a method of ‘lighting up’ the meridian system and making it more visible because we cannot see the meridians with the naked eye. On the other hand, brain imaging during acupuncture laser therapy allows us to see the brain response to acupuncture point stimulation. Because the impact of the laser on the acupuncture point is more rapid than normal stimulation by touch or fine needle, we can observe the impact in the brain more quickly.

TYPES OF LASERS USED AT RACM

While laser therapy can be utilised diagnostically and surgically, the laser therapy used during acupuncture treatment is called LLLT (Low Level Light Therapy). It is sometimes called ‘cold laser’, as it does not produce heat but, rather, is a penetrating light that works in activating the normal healing processes in our cells.

Much research has been conducted on many of the different wavelengths of light that are used in laser acupuncture. At RACM we use three main types:

1. Red (635nM)

  • Is the same wavelength produced in the cells of the body,
  • Increases ATP (energy) production in the cells,
  • Has a stimulatory effect,
  • In acupuncture terms it is said to ‘tonify’.

2. Blue (450nM)

  • Has a ‘sedating’ or calming impact when used on acupuncture points on the body.

3. Infrared (700-1000 nM)

  • Deep wound healing,
  • Deep penetrating,
  • More expensive,
  • Pain treatment for chronic pain.

LASER RESEARCH

  1. Baxter, G.D., Bleakley, C., and McDonough, S. (2008). Clinical effectiveness of laser acupuncture: a systematic review. J. Acupunct. Meridian Stud. 1, 65–82. [good evidence for migraine headaches and laser acupuncture].
  2. Baxter, GD., Walsh DM, Allen JM, Lowe AS, Bell AJ (1994) Effects of low intensity infrared laser irradiation upon conduction in the human medial nerve in vivo. Exp Physiol 532.
  3. Baldry, P. (1993) A review of low-power laser pain-relieving controlled clinical trials. Acupunct Med 11:2–10.
  4. Beckerman, H. de Bie, RA. Bouter, LM. De Cuyper, HJ. Oostendorp, RAB. (1992) The efficacy of laser therapy for musculoskeletal and skin disorders: a criteria-based meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Phys Ther 72:483–491.
  5. Bjordal, JM. Couppe, C. Ljunggren, AE. Low level laser therapy for tendinopathy. Evidence of a dose−response pattern. Physical Therapy Reviews 2001;6:91−9.
  6. Hakguder, A. Birtane, M. Gurcan, S. Kokino, S. Turan, FN. Efficacy of low level laser therapy in myofascial pain syndrome: an algometric and thermographic evaluation. Lasers Surg Med 2003;33:339−43.
  7. Mester, E. Spiry, T. Szende, B. Tota, JG. (1971) Effect of laser rays on wound healing. Am J Surg 22:532–535.
  8. Morton, AR. Fazio, SM. Miller, D. (1993) Efficacy of laser acupuncture in the prevention of exercise-induced asthma. Ann Allergy 70:295–298.
  9. Radmayr, C. Schlager, A. Studen, M. Bartsch, G. Prospective randomized trial using laser acupuncture versus desmopressin in the treatment of nocturnal enuresis. Eur Urol 2001;40: 201−5.
  10. Schlager, A. Offer, T. Baldissera, I. (1998) Laser stimulation of acupuncture point P6 reduces postoperative vomiting in children undergoing strabismus surgery. Br J Anaesth 81:529.
  11. Siedentopf, CM. Golaszewski, SM. Mottaghy, FM. Ruff, CC. Felber, S. Schlager, A. (2002) Functional magnetic resonance imaging detects activation of the visual cortex during laser acupuncture of the foot in humans. Neurosci Lett 327:53–56 DOI 10.1016/S0304-3940(02)00383-X.
  12. Trumpler. F. Oez, S. Stahli, P. Brenner, HD. Juni, P. (2003) Acupuncture for alcohol withdrawal: a randomized controlled trial. Alcohol Alcohol 38:369–375 DOI 10.1093/alcalc/agg091.
  13. Whittaker, P. Laser acupuncture: past, present, and future. Lasers in Medical Science (2004) 19: 69–80 DOI 10.1007/s10103-004-0296-8.
  14. Zalesskiy VN, Belousova IA, Frolov GV (1983) Laser-acupuncture reduces cigarette smoking: a preliminary report. Acupunct Electrother Res 8:297–302.

back to top