Laser Acupuncture Low Level Laser Therapy

Laser acupuncture uses laser light instead of acupuncture needles to stimulate acupuncture points. A laser emits a focused beam of light, and when the light strikes the skin, electrons are discharged, creating an electrical current that stimulates the acupuncture points.

Laser acupuncture offers an alternative when the use of needles is not appropriate or for people with a fear of needles. Acupuncture laser therapy can also be combined with traditional acupuncture. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the marketing of laser acupuncture devices to help with the temporary relief of pain based on clinical data that supports this use.

What is Laser Therapy?

The lasers used for laser therapy are a type of low-level laser therapy (LLLT), also “called cold laser therapy.” The wavelengths of light used in cold laser therapy pass through the layers of skin to reach the target area. The cells absorb the light, starting a series of events in the cell that is believed to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling and help injured tissue heal by increasing intracellular metabolism and blood flow.

The FDA considers LLLT an investigational technique, and the use of laser acupuncture may be restricted depending on state laws.

Acupuncture Laser Therapy

Acupuncture laser therapy takes the use of laser therapy and applies it the stimulation of acupuncture points. Although different types of lasers are available, a commonly-used type is a small, handheld class IIIb laser (5 to 500 mW) that emits a strong, targeted beam of light. Different techniques for using the laser are also available and will depend on the acupuncturists’ training and the acupuncture points being treated.

Laser acupuncture is painless and non-invasive. Although an improperly used laser can burn the skin, laser acupuncture from a properly trained practitioner has no known side effects. If you are interested in laser acupuncture, make sure your acupuncturist has the necessary training to safely and effectively offer the technique.

Resources

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2009). Laser facts. Retrieved March 9, 2011, from http://www.fda.gov/radiation-emittingproducts/resourcesforyouradiationemittingproducts/consumers/ucm142607.htm

Naeser, M.A. (n.d.). Some general information on painless, non-invasive, low-level laser acupuncture. Retrieved March 9, 2011, from http://www.acupuncture.com/education/theory/laseracu.htm

Schnee, A. K. (n.d.). Cold laser therapy pain management treatment. Retrieved March 9, 2011, from http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-management/cold-laser-therapy-pain-management-treatment

Vargas, J. T. (n.d.). Low-level laser acupuncture. Retrieved March 9, 2011, from http://www.medicalacupuncture.org/aama_marf/journal/vol16_2/article_6.html