Knee Pain Relief with Laser Therapy

 One of the most common injuries that people experience as they get older is knee pain.  You depend on your knees to stay active.  Knee pain can significantly affect quality of life when it limits the enjoyment of your favorite activities, and especially if it interferes with your sleep.  Years ago, in my naturopathic medical practice, I was struck by the lack of good options for helping people with knee pain and set out to find a treatment that would provide real and lasting pain reduction for my patients.  I too had an old knee injury that was becoming arthritic.  I was impressed by the research on laser therapy and have been delighted to find that it has helped me and many of my patients to enjoy life without knee pain.  Laser therapy has helped patients with knee problems to enjoy reduced pain, increased mobility and a return to the activities they enjoy.

Low Intensity Laser Therapy (LILT) has been used successfully as a treatment for an extensive range of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.  This painless procedure speeds the healing of tissues, including cartilage, ligaments, muscles, bursa, nerves, tendons and skin.  It enhances DNA synthesis, cell replication, cellular nutrition, circulation and has both anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.  The effectiveness of treating knee pain with laser therapy has been well established in human and animal placebo-controlled, double-blind studies.

The majority of the knee pain is due to osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear on the knee joint and affects 80% of people by the age of 65.  When cartilage begins to wear down in the knee joint, the bone begins to get exposed and irritated, sometimes causing bone spurs to form.  This breakdown can lead to sharp medial knee pain.  It is often worse first thing in the morning, after sitting or driving for a while, and going down stairs.  Swelling may be present, especially in the inner side of the knee. Baker’s cysts in the back of the knee may also contribute to pain and swelling.  With recent studies showing little benefit from arthroscopic surgery for arthritic knees, and the side effects of pain medications making them an undesirable long term treatment option, patients are left with either pain and limitation or the long wait for knee replacement.

Laser therapy is an excellent treatment choice for arthritis that has been proven to work in many well designed studies.  In animal studies, laser therapy has been shown to decelerate the arthritic process, regenerate worn cartilage, and increase the thickness of cartilage.  In humans, a meta-analysis of eight randomized placebo-controlled trials found that 2-4 weeks of laser therapy offered significant, lasting pain relief compared to placebo controls.  It was shown to be more effective than acupuncture or other physiotherapy treatments.  Another more recent clinical trial measured a significant decrease in pain, reduction of knee swelling, increased range of motion and circulation compared to a placebo group that was treated with a sham laser.

In my naturopathic medical practice, I use a state of the art Low Level Laser Therapy machine called the Theralase that utilizes a unique laser probe providing nine laser beams versus the usual one.  This higher intensity treatment is ideally suited for treating joints like the knee.

Other knee conditions that can be successfully treated by low level laser therapy include chondromalacia patella (often seen in runners), meniscus tears (pain in the inner and outer knee), rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, and ligament strains and tears (often acute sports injuries).

Over the counter and prescription anti-inflammatory medications, while providing good pain relief, come at a cost.  Sustained use of ibuprofen (Advil) increases the risk of bleeding ulcers and other gastro-intestinal side effects.  Patients looking for safer anti-inflammatories have several options.  For those who are currently dependent on anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, I will often write a prescription for a topical anti-inflammatory medicine called Diclofenac.  Numerous studies have shown that prescription strength topical diclofenac provides similar pain reduction in osteoarthritis of the knee to oral NSAIDS like ibuprofen, without the risk of stomach bleeding.   Alternatively, a natural topical cream called Traumeel was recently featured in the International Journal of Internal Medicine.  Upon review of the placebo controlled studies of Traumeel, it was concluded that “Traumeel has shown comparable effectiveness to NSAIDs in terms of reducing symptoms of inflammation, accelerating recovery, and improving mobility, with a favourable safety profile”.  Natural oral anti-inflammatories include fish oil and turmeric.  Both of these natural medicines have many side benefits instead of side effects!  One turmeric extract product called Mireva has shown to have superior absorption and effectiveness.  In a large, nine month placebo controlled study of Meriva’s effect on osteoarthritis of the knee, the Mireva group showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in range of motion versus the placebo group.  So don’t let knee pain slow you down.  With natural medicines and laser therapy, safe, painless and effective treatment is available.

To book a free 15-minute consultation with Courtenay naturopathic physician Dr. Deidre Macdonald to see if laser therapy is right for you, please call (250) 897-0235 or contact us here.

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Foot and Ankle Pain Relief with Laser Therapy

When our hardworking feet develop painful problems, our quality of life can be significantly affected.  Laser therapy can provide relief for people suffering from painful conditions of the feet such as arthritis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, foot ulcers and more.  Within a few weeks of treatment with our nine beam laser therapy unit, many of my patients have reported freedom from pain and a return to normal activities.

Low Intensity Laser Therapy (LILT) has been used successfully as a treatment for an extensive range of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.  This painless procedure speeds the healing of tissues, including cartilage, ligaments, muscles, bursa, nerves, tendons and skin.  It enhances DNA synthesis, cell replication, cellular nutrition, circulation and has both anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.  The effectiveness of laser therapy has been well established in hundreds of human and animal placebo-controlled, double-blind studies.

Arthritis of the feet and ankles

Laser therapy is an excellent treatment choice for arthritis that has been proven to work in many well designed studies.  In animal studies, laser therapy has been shown to decelerate the arthritic process, regenerate worn cartilage, and increase the thickness of cartilage.  In humans, a meta-analysis of 36 randomized placebo-controlled trials found that 2-4 weeks of laser therapy offered significant arthritic pain relief compared to placebo controls.  Another more recent clinical trial for arthritis measured a significant decrease in pain, reduction of swelling, increased range of motion and circulation compared to a placebo group that was treated with a sham laser.   Using a state of the art laser machine, we have helped many people reduce pain and increase mobility in their ankles, feet and toes.  It is very rewarding to witness patients enjoying greater mobility and reduced pain and swelling after about 9 to14 treatments.

Plantar fasciitis

This painful condition affects the bottom of the foot.  I usually recommend stretches, exercises, massage and orthodics for patients with this condition, along with laser therapy.  Research shows that patients report significantly less pain after a series of laser treatments.  A study showed that 90% of patients experienced relief:  64% of patients had no pain and another 26% were significantly improved. A placebo controlled study found that the abnormal thickness of the plantar fascia was reduced.  Unlike other treatments for plantar fasciitis, laser therapy is a painless process.

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis can be an acute or a chronic injury.  In the chronic state, fibrosis prevents proper function and healing of the tendon.  Laser therapy has been shown in clinical studies to reduce inflammatory markers in the Achilles tendon and to reduce fibrosis.  Pain reduction during physical activity has been demonstrated, as has a reduction in morning stiffness.  Laser therapy is considered an effective treatment for Achilles tendonitis, and can be added to a program of eccentric contraction exercises for even better results.

 Foot ulcers

Chronic wounds and ulcers are a major source of disability for many people.  They are notoriously difficult to treat with standard protocols.  Often chronic wounds occur on the feet and lower limbs as a result of poor circulation. Diabetes and atherosclerosis are common contributing factors.  In research done at Harvard University and other institutions, laser therapy has been proven to speed healing and resolution of skin ulcers and chronic wounds.  A triple blind study at Brigham Young University concluded that:

“The laser therapy resulted in enhanced healing as measured by wound contraction. These data indicate that laser therapy is an effective modality to facilitate wound contraction of partial-thickness wounds.”

The results from this gentle laser therapy are quite visible in the case of wound healing. There has been photo documentation of many dramatic resolutions of wounds and even of gangrenous toes that were able to be saved from amputation.

So don’t let foot or ankle pain slow you down from enjoying life.  Laser light therapy is a proven treatment that may be able to help you get back doing the things you love to do.

To book a no-charge 15-minute no obligation consultation with naturopathic physician Dr. Deidre Macdonald, contact her medical practice in downtown Courtenay at (250) 897-0235. For more information about laser therapy, read the testimonials on this website. 

FAQ about Laser Therapy