Low level laser therapy (LLLT) is a promising new treatment for a variety of painful conditions which is believed to reduce inflammation and stimulate healing of wounds. Interest in the laser first developed when Endre Mester at Semmelweis University noticed that applying the laser to the backs of shaven mice caused hair to regrow faster than those who did not receive laser treatment. This observation prompted further study into the regenerative effects of the laser first in rats, and then later in humans.
Currently, there aren’t many large-scale studies evaluating the effectiveness of the laser, but smaller studies of the laser for painful conditions show promising results.
A study of 50 patients with knee osteoarthritis reported that the laser was significantly more effective at providing pain relief than transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS)**. Similarly, a separate study of 125 patients with knee osteoarthritis reported both an improvement in pain and an increase in function after LLLT.
In a study of patients with temporomandibular disorders, the laser improved pain within 24 hours, with relief lasting at the 180 day follow-up.
Current studies show that the laser is an up and coming, non-invasive, non-painful treatment option, but larger studies are needed to determine the correct dosing, and for which conditions the laser will be most useful.
**TENS (transcutaneous electrical stimulation) – electrodes are applied to the skin, sending an electric current to the nerves in the skin. The nerves then transmit a signal to the brain. This signal is competing with the signal coming from your painful area. So, instead of feeling your normal pain, you’ll feel a buzzing sensation where the electrodes are attached.
 Chung, Hoon, Tianhong Dai, Sulbha K. Sharma, Ying-Ying Huang, James D. Carroll, and Michael R. Hamblin. “The Nuts and Bolts of Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy.” Annals of Biomedical Engineering 40.2 (2012): 516-33. Print.
 Kędzierski, Tomasz, Katarzyna Stańczak, Kamila Gworys, Jowita Gasztych, Marcin Sibiński, and Jolanta Kujawa. “Comparative Evaluation of the Direct Analgesic Efficacy of Selected Physiotherapeutic Methods in Subjects with Knee Joint Degenerative Disease – Preliminary Report.” Ortopedia Traumatologia Rehabilitacja 14.6 (2012): 1-10. Print.
 Gworys, Kamila, Jowita Gasztych, Anna Puzder, Przemysław Gworys, and Jolanta Kujawa. “Influence of Various Laser Therapy Methods on Knee Joint Pain and Function in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis.” Ortopedia Traumatologia Rehabilitacja 14.3 (2012): 269-77. Print.
 Pereira, T. S., O. D. Flecha, R. C. Guimaraes, A. M. Botelho, JC Ramos Gloria, and K. T. Aguiar Tavano. “Efficacy of Red and Infrared Lasers in Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders–a Double-blind, Randomized, Parallel Clinical Trial.” Cranio : The Journal of Craniomandibular Practice 32.1 (2014): n. pag. Ovid. Web.
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