Cold laser therapy may seem like a treatment that one would read about in a science fiction novel. Just in the past decade, however, it has become a recognized and often times preferred treatment for osteoarthritis knee pain sufferers who want to avoid invasive procedures.
Cold lasers are handheld, non-surgical devices that are used in a clinical setting. They work by emitting specific wavelengths of light thereby stimulating activity in the tissue on a cellular level. Once the metabolic rate of the cell is increased it initiates a number of beneficial biochemical events. The most obvious benefit is a reduction in both pain and inflammation. For example, a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study reported in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery found that laser therapy significantly relieved osteoarthritis knee pain and swelling in patients. The study also found that range of motion increased in the knee joint, and there was less sensitivity and tenderness around the knee joint.
Recently, an abstract entitled Low-Level Laser Therapy and Its Effects On The Quality of Life for Patients Suffering From Osteoarthritis Knee Pain in the Medial Compartment: A Detailed Analysis By Questionnaire found that 79.8% of patients diagnosed with moderate to severe arthritis in the medial aspect of the knee joint (inside part- where the knees touch) who were treated with cold laser therapy reported feeling moderately to a great deal better and their quality of life improved after completing just five weeks of care.
Besides helping reduce pain and inflammation in and around the knee joint, research indicates that cold laser therapy may help an arthritic knee by doing the following:
Fibroblasts production increases: Fibroblasts are needed to make cartilage.
Interleukin-1 is suppressed: Interleukin-1 is a protein that when released plays a direct role in destroying cartilage, it promotes the release of more enzymes that cause cartilage destruction, and it inhibits type II collagen from being produced (so that cartilage cannot be rebuilt or replaced). There are high levels of this protein in an osteoarthritic knee so cold laser therapy inhibits the release of this protein allowing cartilage to be maintained.
Growth factors are released: Treatments release growth factors which play a vital role in healthy knees because they stimulate cartilage cell production or chondrocytes. Moreover, the release of growth factors inhibits the release of interleukin-1.
Tensile strength of the tissue improves: Cold laser treatment is believed to improve the inter and intra molecular hydrogen bonding of the tissue thereby improving the strength of the cartilage so that it doesn't wear down or get injured as easily.
In conclusion, for individuals diagnosed with osteoarthritis knee pain, and need relief from their knee pain, but would prefer a non-invasive procedure should consider finding a doctor who specializes in cold laser therapy for knee pain.
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