Dr. Amy’s most recent CE: Class IV Laser Therapy

I have attended several CE courses in the past month.  The most recent was a discussion hosted by a laser manufacturer about the benefits of laser therapy.  Of course this leads to immediate skepticism: a lecture hosted by a company that wants me to purchase their product…
Nonetheless, I found the lecture intriguing and have continued to ponder the pros and cons.  Here is some basic information for you.  Class IV lasers are simply those lasers in a category that indicates the level of harm they can do.  These lasers, when used in practice, require that we wear a special type of eye protection.  They also have healing effects.  The therapy is supposed to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and speed up the healing process.  It can be used on wounds, fractures, abscesses, sprains, and dermatitis, just to name a few modalities.  The therapy is the result of energy interacting chemically and biologically with tissue.  This causes “photobiostimulation”.  Lasers produce a single wavelength beam of light that is uniform (in “phase”).  It penetrates deeply into tissue to produce changes at the cellular level.  The lecture stated that pain is reduced through affecting stimulation thresholds and essentially reducing pain perception.  Inflammation is reduced by decreasing the body’s production of inflammatory mediators as well as dilating lymphatics and helping to eliminate fluid build up.  Healing is said to speed up though vasodilation (increased blood flow) as well as stimulation of new cell infiltration. 
Further research is needed and there is still only anecdotal reporting on the benefits of this laser therapy.  I have not yet seen a scientific study in a peer reviewed journal.  I will continue to keep a watch on the development of this new modality and will let you know if it proves beneficial and useful.