Finding Relief for Spinal Disc Herniation with Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
Back pain caused by spinal disc herniations have tremendous physical, financial, and emotional burdens. When it is accompanied by radiating pain and numbness in the extremities, it can be truly debilitating.
Signs and symptoms include pain, paresthesia, numbness, tingling and decreased sensation to various parts of the body when the nerves of the spinal cord become affected. There can also be decreased motor strength, muscle spasm, or decreased range of motion. Some risk factors include prolonged standing, age related changes, poor body mechanics, being overweight, and physical trauma.
Intervertebral discs are the fibrocartilaginous joints of the spinal column. They allow compressive, tensile, and rotational motion of the spine. Intervertebral discs do not contain significant vascular structures, but receive their blood supply indirectly through the vertebral body endplates (the top and bottom portions of the disc), which allow nutrients to diffuse into the nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus (the interior and exterior portions of the disc). Because it doesn’t receive blood flow directly, it is very difficult for the body to heal if it has been damaged or torn, and 15-20% of lumbar disc herniations require surgical intervention.
Thankfully, low level laser therapy can provide lasting pain relief by targeting not only the blood, but the tissues surrounding the disc for faster repair. Irradiating the disc with light directly accelerates collagen production, one of the main materials of the annulus fibrosis. The photobiomodulation of the laser increases stem cells and myosatellite cells which help repair damaged muscle tissue as well as nerve cells to help nerve regeneration in cases of nerve compression by the disc. Inflammation and swelling are also decreased by the laser. Low level laser therapy has an additive effect, building upon each treatment to achieve lasting results that fix the root problem, not just the symptoms.
I treated a patient with an L5/S1 disc herniation last week in the Acubalance Laser Clinic with some pretty spectacular results! The patient presented with low back pain and radiating nerve pain down both of her legs along with muscular tightness. After one combined laser and acupuncture treatment, the patient felt significantly better and even had thoughts of delaying her spinal surgery later that month due to the instantaneous relief!
There is substantial published research on the effectiveness of laser therapy in treating lower back pain and lumbar disc herniations.
One patient treated at Meditech Rehabilitation Centre in Toronto which use the Bioflex laser system (the same laser system employed at Acubalance) successfully treated a patient’s cervical disc herniation after just three weeks of treatment. The patient, who suffered the herniation at the C5-C6 level, achieved 80% improvement after 5 treatments, and was entirely asymptomatic after 13 treatments. Range of motion of the cervical spine was within normal limits, no tenderness was noted, and the utilization of analgesics had been completely discontinued.
A study completed with 75 chronic low back pain patients concluded that low level laser therapy was an effective method of reducing pain and functional disability in the therapy of low back pain. Significant improvements were noted in all patients.
Another study completed in Japan concluded that LLLT was an effective form of treatment for neck and back pain caused by cervical disk hernia with twice a week treatments for 4 weeks.
Call Acubalance at 604-678-8600 to book a free 15 minute Q&A to see if laser therapy & acupuncture is right for you.