Laser Therapy For Chronic Pain … Over Opioids

Laser therapy is a new and promising alternative to opioids for chronic pain

Chronic pain is defined as any type of pain that lasts for more than three months. About 30% of Americans are currently affected by chronic pain of some sort, causing many of these individuals to be impaired or disabled in their everyday lives.

For a long while, the most common method for managing chronic pain was with pain-relieving medications. Doctors would often tell patients to start with over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol), and if those didn’t relieve pain, many would go on to be prescribed opioids. But this approach to chronic pain has proven to be misguided and ineffective for a number of reasons, including the fact that opioids don’t actually “fix” pain, and only serve as a temporary solution to a permanent problem for these patients. Opioids are also extremely addictive and associated with a significant amount of abuse, overuse, and overdose-related deaths that are rocking the country in the midst of an ongoing epidemic.

In response, medical professionals are trying to change this trend and recommend effective alternatives treatments to their patients instead of opioids. There are number of alternatives out there for chronic pain, but physical therapy is consistently recognized as one of the best available options, and it’s supported by medical literature as a beneficial method for relieving pain. A physical therapy treatment program can include a wide variety of strategies and interventions, and in some cases it’s paired with laser therapy, a newer, emerging treatment showing some promise for chronic pain patients.

The term “laser” is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Lasers are devices that are created artificially to emit light through a process called optical amplification. They produce a monochromatic (one color) light of a single wavelength in a very tight, narrow beam, that be used for numerous different applications.

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive treatment that makes use of these beams of light for the purpose of alleviating pain related an injury or condition. LLLT uses a red infrared light and focuses it on areas that are damaged from injury or chronic painful conditions. When this laser is targeted upon a painful region of the body, particular changes take place within the cells in a process called photobiomodulation. When used properly and appropriately, the expected result of this process is less pain.

As the popularity of LLLT grows, it’s now starting to be used in physical therapy treatment plans for patients with conditions that can benefit from it, such as chronic pain. Patients with chronic pain that are candidates for LLLT are likely to experience shorter treatment times, reduced swelling from bruising and inflammation, and increased circulation to damaged cells while their pain is safely alleviated.

LLLT has also been the focus of growing amounts of evidence to better understand its effectiveness, much of which has been supportive. In one review, researchers evaluated some of the relevant research on LLLT for various conditions and found the following:


Studies have demonstrated that LLLT may have positive effects on symptoms associated with chronic pain.

The review also identified other studies that showed “LLLT caused an immediate decrease in pain for acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks in chronic neck pain patients,” and also a powerful, double blinded placebo control study that reported “a decrease in pain and increase in function in patients with knee pain.”

Patients dealing with chronic pain are therefore encouraged to see a physical therapist and ask them if laser therapy is right for their condition while avoiding opioids at any cost.

Arthritis Specialist in Visalia – Why Choose Conservative Care First?

If you have a joint problem, you may be looking for an arthritis specialist in Visalia.  If so, chances are we can help and you should try conservative care first.

Any form of arthritis can be a serious burden for those who suffer from it.  People with arthritis usually have stiff joints and avoid movements that increase pain.  While this avoidance may sound like the most logical way to cope with the pain, it actually makes matters worse.

By not moving arthritic joints, the pain and stiffness only grow more intense, which can lead to a vicious and painful cycle over time.  Unfortunately, many people living with arthritis struggle to maintain physical well being due to the fear of pain, with one study suggesting that 37% of all arthritis patients are classified as inactive.

Since there is no cure for arthritis, the focus of treatment is instead on disease management.  In addition to regular physical activity, there has been a significant amount of recent research to support the use of physical therapy as an effective way to manage the condition.  Physical therapy can help by teaching patients with arthritis and stiffness how to move without further damaging joints, with the goal of being able to perform and maintain normal everyday activities without difficulty.

The primary goal of physical therapy is to increase range of motion (ROM) by a series of careful strategies that are individualized for each patient depending on their needs and abilities.  Most importantly, physical therapy has been found to be beneficial for all patients with arthritis, regardless of their age or the type of arthritis they have, whether that’s rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA), or one of its many other forms.

Treatment plans for arthritis will vary from patient to patient, but most will consist of the following:

  • The physical therapist will work with you to identify activities that are most painful and create solutions such as prescribing assistive devices for daily living
  • Improve your body mechanics—how your body moves—and posture, which may often lead to pain if not done properly
  • The therapist will likely perform manual techniques that will stretch and move joints in such a way that will lead to more overall ROM
  • An aerobic exercise program—with your limitations in mind—may also be prescribed, which will increase flexibility and strengthen bones

To highlight just how effective physical therapy can be for arthritis, a powerful review analyzed the findings of 17 studies, all of which evaluated the use of strength exercise—also known as resistance exercise—on patients with knee OA.  The conclusion states:

Resistance exercise is beneficial in terms of reducing pain, alleviating stiffness, and improving physical function in patients with knee OA.

Resistance exercises are one of the many interventions used by physical therapists for these patients, as they can help build back weak muscles to improve functionality.

So if you are dealing with arthritis and feel that it’s holding you back from living your life, we strongly recommend seeing one of our physical therapist first and fast.  They have considerable experience dealing with arthritic joint conditions.

You can click here to visit our contact page then call either one of our offices.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis Treatment in Visalia

If you are looking for rotator cuff tendinitis treatment in Visalia, you’re not alone. Many shoulder issues are caused by rotator cuff tendinitis that require physical therapy

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach to the bones of the shoulder joint, and it is essential for allowing the shoulder to move and keeping it stable during movements. But due to its vital role and frequent use, the rotator cuff is also a very common site of injury. In particular, rotator cuff tendinitis is a frequent source of shoulder pain that can impair a patient’s ability to perform overhead movements. But for most of these patients, physical therapy can address the underlying problem.

Rotator cuff tendinitis is often an overuse injury that occurs gradually over time. It can result from something as simple as moving the shoulder into the same position repeatedly, or from sports and activities that consist of over-the-head motions like baseball, tennis, swimming or even painting. As time passes, these repetitive shoulder motions lead to inflammation and irritation of the tendons, which will eventually cause pain when performing these motions.

Common Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

The main symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis are pain and swelling in the front of the shoulder and side of the arm, usually while raising or lowering the arm. Loss of mobility and strength, stiffness, and at times a “clicking” sensation may also occur. If you happen to notice any of these symptoms and are concerned, the only way to determine if rotator cuff tendinitis is present is with a physical therapist evaluation.

Fortunately, most cases of rotator cuff tendinitis are reversible and can be managed very successfully with a course of physical therapy. All physical therapy programs are different depending on the patient’s abilities and goals, but most will include the following components:

  • Pain-relieving modalities like laser therapy, heat, and/or ice
  • Recommendations to avoid activities that can further aggravate the shoulder
  • Posture education and training
  • Strengthening exercises to recover the strength of the rotator cuff and the shoulder girdle complex
  • Stretching exercises to increase flexibility of muscles surrounding the shoulder

A recent study highlights just how effective physical therapy can be for patients with rotator cuff tendinitis. In the study, three different types of exercises that are commonly used by physical therapists were compared, and the conclusion reached stated:

Open chain, closed chain and range of movement exercises all seem to be effective in bringing about short-term changes in pain and disability in patients with rotator cuff tendinitis

Rotator cuff tendinitis can be a major hindrance on your everyday activities, especially if you’re an active athlete. So if shoulder pain is holding you back from living your life normally, physical therapy is likely your fastest ticket to relief.  Click here for contact information for both of our locations.

NEW: If you are looking for shoulder treatment in Hanford or Visalia, ask about our New class 4 laser and how it might help your shoulder problem.

Laser Therapy & Fibromyalgia Treatment in Visalia

Fibromyalgia treatment in Visalia can be more effective with the addition of laser therapy

Although it may sound futuristic, lasers are being used in the medical field right now for a wide range of purposes, and their popularity is growing rapidly. You may have heard of medical professionals like surgeons, dentists and opthamologists utilizing them, but it may surprise you to hear laser therapy can be paired with physical therapy, too. In fact, it might be part of your individualized treatment program if your condition calls for it.

A laser is a device that emits light through a process called optical amplification, and the term “laser” is actually an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Lasers do not occur in nature, but are created artificially, and they produce a monochromatic (one color) light of a single wavelength in a very tight, narrow beam.

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive treatment that makes use of these beams of light for the purpose of reducing pain related an injury or condition. LLLT utilizes red—or close to red—infrared light and directs it to areas that are damaged from injury. When this laser is targeted upon a painful region of the body, particular changes take place within the cells in a process called photobiomodulation. When used properly and appropriately, the expected result of this process is less pain.

In contrast to surgical lasers, the lasers used in LLLT gently pass through the body without breaking the skin or causing any discomfort. For this reason, the risk for side effects after treatment is considered very low.

LLLT is now being incorporated into physical therapy treatment practices with the goal of producing even better outcomes for patients. When applied correctly, LLLT can:

  • Reduce the amount of treatment time needed to recover
  • Safely alleviate pain
  • Reduce swelling from bruising and inflammation
  • Increase circulation to damaged cells

As the popularity of LLLT has been growing, studies are emerging that suggest it can be effective for treating a variety of conditions commonly seen in physical therapy clinics, such as sprains, strains, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, frozen shoulder and fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia affects between 4-6 million Americans with chronic pain and a wide array of other symptoms, often leading to missed days of work or disability. But one study conducted in 2013 evaluated the use of laser therapy on a group of women with fibromyalgia, and had some promising results. Its conclusion states:

This study provides evidence that laser therapy may be a beneficial modality for women with fibromyalgia in order to improve pain and upper body range of motion, ultimately reducing the impact of fibromyalgia.

So if you’re dealing with any type of pain that doesn’t seem to respond to other treatments, it may be time to give laser therapy a try. Contact us for more information on laser therapy and to find out if it’s right for your condition.