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Category: Physiologic Therapeutics

Low-Intensity Laser Therapy

Low-intensity laser treatment (LILT) is a revolutionary treatment for chronic pain and injuries, harnessing the focused power of light to accelerate the healing of damaged tissues deep inside the body. When the light comes into contact with damaged cells, the cells react by regenerating, reviving and healing.

Laser therapy effectively repairs the underlying damage that causes pain instead of masking the symptoms. By healing the actual damage, patients are liberated from long-term painkiller usage and can return to an active lifestyle faster — often without surgical intervention. This makes it an incredibly cost-effective and efficient form of health care that is also:

  • Non-invasive and non-toxic
  • Comfortable and provides natural pain relief
  • Free of side effects

The process of using light to generate healing, growth and metabolism is nothing new — plants do it every day to create energy from sunlight. Today, scientists know that infrared laser light can have the same effect to injured human tissues.

The specific wavelength of light used during low-intensity laser therapy penetrates into the body’s tissues without generating heat. It does, however, activate the metabolism inside damaged cells. Light-sensitive molecules inside of a cell’s mitochondria spur the production of several substances responsible for regeneration, healing and metabolism including: adenosine triphosphate (ATP), several proteins, and ribonucleic acid (RNA). The light also reduces inflammation, boosts circulation and improves the cell’s ability to use oxygen and nutrients to repair itself.

While all of this is happening inside the body, the patient is lying or sitting comfortably in one of our relaxing treatment rooms while we gently rub the smooth infrared-emitting light probe over the affected area.

Because laser therapy acts by healing and regenerating tissues inside the body without any invasive procedures or drug therapies, it can successfully treat a wide variety of injuries and conditions including:

  • Sprains and Strains — Injuries to the muscles, tendons and ligaments respond very well to laser therapy. It stimulates endorphin release (your body’s own painkillers) and repairs overworked, overstretched and torn tissues.
  • Fractures — Hairline stress fractures in the bone mend more quickly with laser stimulation.
  • Facet Joint Syndrome — If the cartilage cushioning the spinal facet joints deteriorates, vertebrae grate against one another and can pinch nerves. Combining LILT and chiropractic care has been very successful at relieving the resulting back pain and improving spinal flexibility and mobility.
  • Bulging and Herniated Discs — Laser therapy can also help repair and regenerate damaged intervertebral discs to alleviate back pain and pain that radiates into the arms and legs. Laser therapy and chiropractic care are an effective combination for treating injured discs.
  • Bruises — Laser therapy stimulates the dilation of smaller blood vessels surrounding the bruise, helping to usher fluids and swelling effectively from the bruised area to accelerate healing.

 

Intersegmental Traction

Interseg-what??! You may know this better as “The Roller Bed”. The bed provides a therapy called intersegmental traction. You may have been on this bed many times, but wonder, what exactly does this do, and how is it beneficial? Today, we aim to answer all of those questions.

Intersegmental traction is an effective chiropractic therapy that induces passive motion into the spine for the purpose of stretching spinal joints and increasing mobility. Intersegmental traction helps to gently and effectively reestablish normal range of motion to your spine. It also facilitates muscle relaxation to significantly reduce muscle spasms. Whether you’re a professional athlete, runner, or just someone who often exercises, the stress and trauma to your spine can be debilitating-especially with age and wear and tear.

At Minnesota Chiropractic and Rehabilitation, intersegmental traction is delivered through the use of a traction table. You lay down on the table (on your back) and there are rollers just underneath the surface of the table. These rollers can be adjusted depending on your chiropractic condition and weight to gently and specifically elongate and stretch your spinal joints and muscles. This helps to reduce muscle spasms and increases your range of motion for your spinal joints (each vertebrae). When your muscles become more relaxed and vertebrae begin to move normally, your vertebral discs now have their normal space and can return to their normal position and functioning. This also helps to prevent abnormal wear and tear on the vertebral discs and prevents further injury and reduces the arthritis process.

Intersegmental traction is non-invasive and painless. Many of our chiropractic patients find this form of chiropractic care to be relaxing. The gentle rolling action is restful, exercising the spine without effort.

What are the advantages of intersegmental traction chiropractic therapy

  • Increases mobility and stretches ligaments and muscles
  • Reduces muscle spasms and spinal subluxations
  • Increases blood flow and oxygen to discs, ligaments and muscles, thereby improving balance, strength and mobility.

Intersegmental traction is a particularly effective chiropractic therapy when used in conjunction with chiropractic manipulative therapy, as done at Minnesota Chiropractic and Rehabilitation!

Electrical Stimulation

As a patient, you may have had Inferential Therapy (also known as Electrical Stimulation) before some of your adjustments. You may be thinking “What??” Let me explain a little better. Electrical Stimulation at Minnesota Chiropractic and Rehabilitation is usually done before a treatment at our office. This is when you are taken back to lay face down on a table and cool pads are put on your back. Then we turn on the machine, so that the pads feel like they are making your muscles twitch. Sound familiar? Today, you get to learn more about how exactly that machine works, and why it is an effective treatment!

Electric stimulation therapy is a therapeutic treatment that applies electrical stimulation in treating muscle spasms and pain. It can help prevent atrophy and build strength in patients with injuries. It is also helpful in keeping muscles active especially after any type spinal cord injury or strokes.

Electric stimulation works by mimicking the natural way by which the body exercises its muscles. The electrodes attached to the skin deliver impulses that make the muscles contract. It is beneficial in increasing the patient’s range of motion and improves the circulation of the body. It is used in treating conditions like sprains, arthritis, back pain scoliosis and sciatica.

TENS is commonly used to help with chronic pain. The general type of electric stimulation is used for healing wounds and alleviating pain. For the convenience of the patient, a portable TENS unit can be prescribed by the doctor or a physical therapist for the patient to use at home.

Interferential current (IFC) is another form of TENS. It is used by physical therapists and chiropractors for the purpose of decreasing inflammation and swelling of affected tissues. This treatment has also shown positive effects in improving symptoms of asthma and in reducing back pain.

Galvanic stimulation is also another application of electric stimulation. This involves applying pulsed electric current on affected body tissues in stimulating muscle contraction. It differs with TENS and IFC in its use of direct current rather than alternating current. The positive pad acts to decrease circulation of the target area and reduce swelling. The negative pad increases the distribution of oxygen, blood and nutrients to the injured area thus increasing the speed of the healing process.

Administration of electric stimulation should exclude patients with pacemakers or those who have certain kinds of skin disease. Pregnant women should also avoid this treatment.

In using electric stimulation, chiropractors seek to improve quality of life for patients when the traditional treatment plans are not working, or as a great addition to any treatment to get quicker results.

Ice Packs

Simple application of a cold pack or ice placed in a plastic bag and wrapped in a towel or other protective barrier (to protect the skin from ice burn) is one of the most effective pain relief treatments available.

Ice or a cold pack should be applied for no more than 20 minutes at a time and can be applied several times a day (e.g. up to eight or ten times in a twenty-four hour period).

Types of Ice Packs and Cold Packs

There are many types of ice packs that can be used for relief of lower back pain. All of the options are effective, and patients can select which works best for them based on personal preference, budget, and convenience.

Common types of cold packs that are effective for lower back pain include:

Reusable Cold Pack or Ice Pack
Many types of reusable ice packs (such as those filled with gel) are available at drug stores, general merchandise stores, and our office! These cold packs can be kept in the freezer ready for use when needed, and re-frozen after each use. For an inexpensive alternative, reusable cold packs can be made at home.

Homemade Ice Pack
To make an ice pack, simply put the desired amount of ice in a plastic bag (baggie) and squeeze the air out of the bag before sealing it. Some people like to add a little water to the ice so that the bag is not so lumpy. The bag should be wrapped in a towel before applying it to the painful area to protect the skin from ice burn. Additional alternatives include:

    • A frozen towel. To make a towel into a cold pack, place a folded, damp towel in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for ten to twenty minutes. Then take the towel out of the bag and place it on the affected area.
    • Sponge. Wet a sponge and put in the freezer. After it is frozen, take it out and put it in a baggie, then wrap it in a sock or a towel before applying it to the sore back.
    • Rice. Another alternative is to fill a sock with rice and place it in the freezer, as rice will get as cold as ice but does not melt when used.
    • Gel-type pack. Still another alternative is to fill a baggie with liquid dishwasher detergent and freeze it, which gives it a consistency of a gel pack.
    • Frozen bag of peas. If ice is needed quickly, it is easy to grab a bag of frozen peas or other vegetables out of the freezer, wrap it in a towel and apply it to the painful area.

Disposable Ice Packs/ Instant Ice Packs
Single use cold packs have the advantage of becoming cold almost instantly through a chemical reaction that takes place once the pack is “cracked”. Because they are ready at any time, prior planning in terms of putting the ice pack in the freezer is not needed. Another advantage is that the chemical reaction in the pack allows it to stay cold for an extended period of time while being used at room temperature. The main disadvantage of instant ice packs is that they can only be used once, making them more expensive than reusable ice packs or homemade ice packs. A variety of disposable, instant ice packs are available at most drug stores and general merchandise stores.

Ice Application Precautions

To avoid getting an ice pack burn, be sure to limit application of ice to no more than twenty minutes and do not fall asleep lying on an ice pack.

As with all pain relief treatments, there are some cautions with applying ice and using ice therapy.

  • Never apply ice directly to the skin. Instead, be sure that there is a protective barrier between the ice and skin, such as a towel.
  • Limit the ice application to no more than fifteen or twenty minutes at a time.
  • Ice application should be avoided by patients with certain medical conditions, such as for patients who have rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s Syndrome, cold allergic conditions, paralysis, or areas of impaired sensation.

Ice massage and ice application is generally most helpful during the first 48 hours following an injury that strains the back muscles. After this initial period, heat therapy is probably more beneficial to the healing process.

For some people, alternating heat therapy with cold application provides the most pain relief.

Ice Massage

To do ice massage therapy, a regular ice cube may be used, but it’s better to use a larger piece of ice. One easy way to do this is to freeze water in a paper or Styrofoam cup, then peel the top inch or two of the cup to expose the ice surface.

Someone else can give the ice massage, with the patient lying on his or her stomach in a comfortable position. Placing a pillow or towel under the hips will help keep stress off the low back. Patients can also give themselves ice massages by lying on their side and reaching around to apply ice to the low back.

5 Steps of Ice Massage Therapy

For optimal results, ice massage therapy should be gently applied to the lower back as follows:

  1. Apply the ice gently and massage in a circular motion
  2. Focus the ice massage therapy on the six-inch area of the back where the pain is felt
  3. Avoid applying the ice massage directly on the bony portion of the spine (the bones that protrude along the spinal column)
  4. Limit the ice massage therapy to about 5 minutes at a time (to avoid an ice burn)
  5. Repeat the ice massage two to five times a day.

In general, one should never apply ice directly to the skin to avoid burning the skin. However, with ice massage therapy it is acceptable to apply the ice to the skin because the ice doesn’t stay in one place for long.

The key to ice massage therapy is to achieve numbness in the area of injury without burning the skin. Once this ‘numbness’ has been achieved, gentle, minimal stress movements can be made. When the numbness has worn off, the ice massage can be applied again for another cycle.

Ice massage and ice application is generally most helpful during the first 48 hours following an injury that strains the back muscles. After this initial period, heat therapy is probably more beneficial to the healing process. For some people, alternating heat therapy with cold application/icing provides the most pain relief.

Ice Massage Precautions

To avoid getting an ice burn, there are several precautions to take with ice therapy:

  • When applying ice directly to the skin on the back, be sure to keep the ice moving in a slow, circular motion to avoid staying in one place too long.
  • Limit the ice massage to no more than five minutes at a time.
  • Be sure not to fall asleep with the ice resting on the skin.
  • Ice application of any kind should be avoided by patients with certain medical conditions, such as for patients who have rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s Syndrome, cold allergic conditions, paralysis, or areas of impaired sensation.

One does not have to include massage with the ice to benefit – simple application or an ice pack or cold pack to the painful area is also an effective pain reliever.