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Laser-Accelerated Inflammation/Pain Reduction and Healing

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) precipitates a complex set of physiological interactions at the cellular level that reduces acute inflammation, reduces pain, and accelerates tissue healing.
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Compromised cells and tissues respond more readily than healthy cells or tissues to energy transfers that occur between LLLT-emitted photons and the receptive chromophores found in the various cells and sub-cellular organelles. Cells and tissues that are ischemic and poorly perfused as a result of inflammation, edema and injury have been shown to have a significantly higher response to LLLT irradiation than normal healthy structures. Cell membranes, mitochondria and damaged neurological structures exhibit less than optimal metabolism and stasis conditions. Multiple studies have demonstrated that under these compromised conditions, the introduction of energy transfers and the resultant enhancement of metabolic activity is most pronounced in biologically challenged components. While it may appear that LLLT is thus selectively targeting compromised cells, in reality, these cells exhibit a lowered reaction threshold to the effects of laser light and are more easily triggered to energy transfer responses. The result is that LLLT has a significant effect on damaged cells and tissues while normative biological constituents are appreciably less affected.1

The cellular cascade effect — precipitated by the actions of enzymes and having a significant in the presence of LLLT — has a significant impact on cellular and tissue function. Since a considerable number of the reactive proteins that respond to laser stimulation are enzymes, laser light effects are amplified in the stimulation of beneficial enzymes and depression of deleterious enzymes.

At the cellular level, cytochromes can be defined as electron or proton-transfer proteins that act as energy producers for human biological functions. Both of the cytochrome enzymes, Cytochrome c Oxydase and Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) have been found to be particularly reactive to laser photon stimulation. The particular affinity of these and other photo-reactive enzymes to accelerate their functions in the presence of LLLT provides critical increases in the molecule ATP and Nitric Oxide (NO) which enhances cellular metabolism, circulatory improvement and nerve function.

Although the various actions of LLLT in regards to inflammation, pain and healing have been separated categorically here for the purpose of process identification, their interactions are not so easily distinguished. In response to LLLT, the reduction in inflammation, pain and healing time all compliment each other and many of the processes are either simultaneous or overlapping.

Acute Inflammation Reduction

Immediately after an acute injury event, the body, in response to the disruption of the integrity of vascular, soft tissue, connective tissue and neurological processes, initiates a series of biological responses. The inflammatory reaction consists of both vascular and cellular events. Injury responsive components such as Mast cells, Bradykinins and Prostaglandins are activated along with the vascular responses and cellular membrane reactions. All of these combined processes and events are represented by the symptoms of edema, inflammation, pain and functional debility. LLLT can be effective in mediating both the symptoms and the underlying inflammatory process by the following actions:

Last updated on: May 16, 2011
First published on: November 1, 2003