Tag Archives: neck

Laser application in physical therapy

If you have ever had physical therapy, you are aware that manual therapy techniques and exerciseprescription are usually the cornerstone of your treatment program. Perhaps you’ve also had experience with modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and even laser therapy.

What is a laser?
There are two different types of lasers primarily used in clinical treatment, Class 3 and Class 4. They are classified according to their ability to cause retinal damage, thus wearing appropriate protective eyewear is a must when working with these lasers. Class 3 lasers emit power of 5 to 500 mW while class 4 lasers emit power greater than 500 mW.

Class 3 lasers are low level, low intensity, cold lasers as they cause no thermal effect in the superficial tissue when used. Class 4 lasers are high power and considered hot lasers as they do produce an increase in the temperature of superficial tissue when proper exposure time is exceeded.

Under proper and normal treatment protocols, class 4 lasers emit greater photonic energy in a shorter period of time than class 3 lasers without a significant rise in tissue temperature, allowing it to treat deeper tissues, such as ligaments, muscles, tendons and cartilage.

What types of conditions benefit from laser treatment?
Physical therapists use class III and IV lasers as a treatment modality. These different types of lasers, whether they are cold lasers or provide a thermal effect, such as red, near infrared, or CO2 lasers provide pain relief and aid in the healing process of many musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions.

These conditions include:

  • Neck and low back pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Capsulitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Migraine
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Arthritis
  • Strains and sprains
  • Adherent scar tissue
  • Wound healing
  • Muscle spasm
  • Pelvic pain
  • Stress urinary incontinence

How does it work?
Lasers work by stimulating collagen synthesis to aid in tissue healing, limiting the formation of edema and hemorrhage, increasing/stimulating the production of ATP (the energy source for our cells), and accelerating the inflammatory process by reducing levels of painful inflammatory marker, decreasing neutrophil influx, and decreasing oxidative stress on the body.

The use of laser for vaginal health is becoming increasingly popular among women who experience vaginal changes secondary to aging, childbirth, and hormonal fluctuation. These changes in vaginal tissue can contribute to loss of sexual gratification, dyspareunia (pain with intercourse), pelvic pain, and stress urinary incontinence. By stimulating collagen synthesis and reducing inflammation, pain is reduced and intravaginal tissue is strengthened, improving continence.

Please consult your physician for additional information.


Image: www.pixels.com

What a Pain in the Neck

Neck pain is a common reason for doctor visits. It is so common that the topic made it to the Washington Post recently in an article titled “What you need to know about that pain in your neck.”

Here are some facts about neck pain:

  • A common cause of neck pain is poor posture during work, rest or leisure.
  • Lifting or carrying heavy objects can strain muscles connecting your arm/shoulder and neck.
  • Even light weight (or un-weighted) repetitive motions can cause neck pain.
  • Excessive tension or stress frequently causes us to hold our jaw, neck and shoulders in a way that leads to pain and headaches.
  • The joints of the neck allow a great deal of motion. That is why necks are vulnerable to injury with trauma.

What you need to know before you go to the doctor:

  • Majority of neck pain episodes resolve in 2-3 weeks without imaging studies.
  • The older we are the more likely neck pathology will be seen on imaging studies even on those people without neck pain.
  • Over the counter analgesics (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen Sodium) are more effective in treating neck pain than muscle relaxants.
  • Sleeping with too many pillows or a pillow that is too firm can cause neck pain.

What you can do:

  • Use heat or cold pack to soothe muscle aches. Use the type that feels best to you.
  • Decrease unnecessary weight in your handbag, book-bag or briefcase.
  • Remind yourself to relax your neck, jaw and shoulder muscles while trying to maintain good posture.
  • Consider Physical Therapy to help improve muscle and joint balance via exercises for your neck and shoulder girdle.
  • If pain has not resolved in time, or if your pain was caused by trauma, see your physician or urgent care clinic.


Written by: Miriam Graham, PT, DPT
Edited by: Claire Agrawal, PT, DPT

Photo Credit:

Link to Washington Post article: