Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) is defined as a form of light therapy that utilizes non-ionizing light sources. This type of therapy is a nonthermal process involving endogenous chromophores eliciting photophysical (i.e., linear and nonlinear) and photochemical events at various biological scales.

That’s just a fancy way of saying this type of therapy uses lasers or LEDs to improve tissue repair, reduce pain and inflammation wherever the beam is applied. Usually applied by a doctor, therapist or technician, treatments take about 10 minutes and should be applied two or more times a week.

PBMT has been used for many years in multiple industries for an assortment of injuries, including:

  • sports injuries
  • arthritic joints
  • neuropathic pain syndromes
  • back and neck pain

There have been more than 300 clinical trials published detailing the effects of PBMT, and half of those studies have discussed its effects in reducing pain. According to LiteCure.com, “There is a consensus that the application of a therapeutic dose of light to impaired or dysfunctional tissue leads to a cellular response mediated by mitochondrial mechanisms that reduce pain and inflammation and speed healing.”

When should Photobiomodulation therapy be used?

As we previously discussed, PBMT is used for the relief of pain and inflammation and the treatment of sports injuries.

Pain Relief

Before PBMT can be administered, treatment for acute or chronic pain must be diagnosed and a healthcare provider has to confirm that the pain is from a neuromusculoskeletal condition caused by aging or injury and that there is no disqualifying condition or contraindication for laser use. Further, pregnant women are not good candidates for PBMT since the effects on the unborn child are unknown.

Additionally, PBMT usually requires more than one treatment for optimal pain relief. It may take several treatments for the results to become evident. According to Spine-Health.com, it can take anywhere from eight to 30 sessions for a treatment to be fully effective, and some patients find it necessary to undergo treatment two to four times per week. The total number of treatments needed depends on the condition being treated, the severity of the condition, and each patient’s individual response.

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