What is LASER?
by Dr. Gary Saito, DC
Most people don’t know that “laser” is an acronym, a word made up by taking the first letters of other words, in this case,” Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”, which is a mouthful until we shorten it to “LASER”.
A laser is not electrical or magnetic or sound energy. It is LIGHT energy, specifically the light in a particular spectrum. As we know, white light is made up of many colors put together. Science and technology have isolated the red spectrum of light because of its influence on human cells and have developed a way to use that light to benefit people.
In the early days of red light therapy, laser had been used for tattoo removal, acne, hair removal, cosmetic improvements, and other superficial treatments. Lower level red laser treatments can erase brown (age) spots and improve skin texture. After many refinements, it has revolutionized medicine by helping surgeons perform work with a precision that was difficult to do before. Dentists and dermatologists also use it nationwide in their work.
Are all these uses similar? Not hardly. Each profession has found a way to
use light in the form of laser to accomplish its specific tasks.
How does it help improve our health?
Of the many varieties of laser, a growing field is emerging that uses lasers to benefit the mass public. The therapeutic laser treatment used in our office is more powerful that that used in the early days for skin features and blemishes; and it is not the kind of laser used in medical and dental surgery.
What was discovered around 1960 is that the red spectrum of light stimulates the cells of our bodies. It “wakes them up” and increases their level of cellular function. Cells, of course, perform many functions in the human body. But some cells are aging, some are damaged, and some are weak and slow to respond to the body’s needs. Every type of cell has a job. Muscle cells give us the ability to perform all our daily activities. Bone cells give us a strong skeletal framework. Well-functioning joints make all our many movements possible.
Nerve cells run our bodies like the electrical system in our homes. When it is working well, we barely pay attention to to the many functions it performs. But when electrical problems in our home develop, we notice signs like flickering lights and appliances that won’t turn on. Nerves are our “electrical system”. When things start to go wrong, we get signals like pain, tingling, and numbness.
Red light has an interesting effect on all cells of our body that make them perform their
jobs better, to restore, repair, or replace.
How does it work?
Red light that is able to penetrate into cells provides stimulus for a
little-known cell component called the mitochondria, which is the
power source of the cell, like the battery in our cars. When the power
output in our car is low, engine functions seem sluggish. Your battery needs a recharge. Laser light
“recharges” the cell’s battery, the mitochondria, which produces enough
energy for the cell to function at peak capacity. Body processes normalize,
weak cells and organs get stronger, damaged cells repair themselves, and
aging cells that have outlived their usefulness are replaced by new cells. All of these actions improve health.
What conditions can be treated?
Laser therapy can also reduce pain and inflammation, improve joint movements, and accelerate the healing of wounds and injuries. To date, red light spectrum lasers used for therapeutic results have been credited with helping more than 20 conditions, including arthritis, back and neck pain, sciatica leg pain, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, and hip, knee, and shoulder pain.
Laser therapy has the ability to reduce pain and inflammation and make
people’s lives more comfortable. Without harming the tissues it treats, it
can stimulate healing and repair. Up to now, many people had to rely on
medications and opioids for pain relief, with consequences like constipation, dizziness, and stomach upset. Laser treatments don’t have any
side effects, unless you count pain relief and improved functioning.
How do I know which laser treatment is best for me?
There are 4 classes of therapeutic lasers on the market today: Class 1, Class 2, Class 3B, and Class 4.
Class 1 and Class 2 lasers help to treat skin-related problems. Their penetration into tissues deeper than the skin is limited. Most of these lasers can be purchased online and used in the home by essentially anyone. They are safe and have few risks.
For conditions affecting muscles, nerves, and joints, a Class 3B or Class 4 laser is preferred. Both can produce results below the skin surface. The critical differences between Class 3B and Class 4 lasers are: depth of penetration and wavelength. Class 4 lasers have deeper penetration and a stronger laser energy. Both have cautionary risks and should be used by trained and certified technicians. These lasers can be found in medical and health-oriented businesses. Our office uses the efficient and therapeutic Class 4 Laser.
Understandably, with more power, there should be more attention to safety and supervision. The administration of Class 3B and Class 4 laser therapy should be performed by individuals trained and certified by the laser manufacturer.
When properly administered, laser therapy can be safe and helpful for many debilitating conditions. Patients feel no more than a warming sensation and have described it as soothing and relaxing. Yet, it is the light that does all the work.
The FDA has already recognized the health benefits of laser therapy and has
been registering those laser instruments that meet its stringent
requirements for medical devices.
How can I find a treatment facility?
The Saito Chiropractic Office offers state-of-the-art Class 4 laser treatments. Our laser is registered with the FDA. Appointments can be made by calling (808) 456-4444. Jerry, the Office Manager, can help you with questions you have and schedule your first visit. On your first visit, we will do a consultation and evaluation to see if laser treatment is right for you.
You can also call other offices to inquire if they offer laser treatments. You can ask a friend or co-worker who may have had first-hand experience with laser treatment. When possible, get the recommendation of someone you trust.
Laser treatments are not inexpensive. A single session of 15 minutes can cost $50 or more. Because most conditions will require multiple sessions, you should consider how this will affect your financial situation.
Because no insurance company in Hawaii covers the cost of laser treatments for their members and beneficiaries at the present time, no standard for pricing of this service has been established and, therefore, cost of treatment can vary widely from facility to facility.
At the Saito Chiropractic Office, we want to be affordable to your budget. You will find our fees reasonable when compared to other offices.
CAUTION: Some laser facilities will require that you sign a long-term contract (a year or more) for treatments. Such contracts can cost from $3,000-$5,000. You will be required to pay up front or to have a payment plan that insures the office will be paid in full. There is no guarantee that your condition will be resolved to your satisfaction. If your condition resolves ahead of schedule, you may be held to the full length of the contract (and the total cost) whether you need more treatments or not. A refund of the unused balance is uncertain.
Boastful advertising is meant to persuade you that they offer you the best of care, but check several sources before deciding on the treatment program that is right for you. The size of the ad is not necessarily indicative of the quality of care you will receive. There are many laser facilities that do not bind you to a lengthy and expensive contracted financial agreement. Session costs can be reasonable and treatment plans should be tailored to your individual needs.