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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.

How to Apply Heat Therapy

The most effective heat therapy products are the ones that can maintain their heat at the proper temperature. “Warm” is the proper temperature. Patients should not have their heat source be hot to the point of burning the skin. The desired effect is for the heat to penetrate down into the muscles. Simply increasing the temperature of the skin will do little to decrease discomfort.

In many instances, the longer the heat is applied, the better. The duration that one needs to apply the heat, though, is based on the type of and/or magnitude of the injury. For very minor back tension, short amounts of heat therapy may be sufficient (such as 15 to 20 minutes). For more intense injuries, longer sessions of heat may be more beneficial (such as 30 minutes to 2 hours, or more).

Types of Heat Therapy

Two options for heat therapy include moist heat and dry heat.

  • Dry heat, such as electric heating pads and saunas, draw out moisture from the body and may leave the skin dehydrated. However, some people feel that dry heat is the easiest to apply and feels the best.
  • Moist heat, such as hot baths, steamed towels or moist heating packs can aid in the heat’s penetration into the muscles, and some people feel that moist heat provides better pain relief.

A specific type of heat therapy may feel better for one person than for another, and it may require some experimentation to figure out which one works best. There are many different manners for heat to be applied to the lower back. Some common options include:

  • Hot water bottle – tends to stay warm for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Electric heating pad – maintains a constant level of heat as long as it is plugged in.
  • Heated gel packs – may be microwaved, or sometimes heated in water, and tend to say warm for about 30 minutes. Certain types of gel packs provide moist heat, which some people prefer.
  • Heat wraps – wraps around the lower back and waist and may be worn against the skin under clothing, providing convenience and several hours of low level of heat application.
  • Hot bath, hot tub, sauna, steam bath – tend to stimulate general feelings of comfort and relaxation that may help reduce muscle spasm and pain. A whirlpool jet directed at the lower back may provide the added benefit of a light massage.

Finally, it is important to use enough insulation between the heat source and the skin to avoid overheating or burning the skin.

When Heat Therapy Is Not an Option

Please note that heat should not be used in certain circumstances. For example, if the lower back is swollen or bruised, heat should not be used. Patients should consult doctors if they have heart disease or hypertension. Heat application is also not suitable in the following cases:

  • Dermatitis
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Open wound
  • Severe cognitive impairment

In general, if the injured area is swollen or bruised it is better to apply ice or a cold pack to reduce the swelling.

In summary, heat therapy is an easy and inexpensive option to provide relief from many forms of lower back pain. It may be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies. Because it is so simple, it is often overlooked and physicians may forget to mention it, but heat therapy used in the right way can be a valuable part of many lower back pain treatment programs.

What does Therapeutic Ultrasound Do?

Many people hear of ultrasound and they think of a device that uses sound waves to construct images inside the human body. But did you know ultrasound has long been used as a therapeutic device to decrease swelling and increase healing for a variety of injuries? Sprained ankles, sore elbows, and achy backs can all be helped from the relatively common therapeutic device. The sound waves produced by an ultrasound machine are absorbed by tissues up to 5 inches below the skin which has a number of positive physiological effects at different stages of healing.

Acute Stage

In acute injuries ultrasound causes a release of histamine which attracts neutrophils and monocytes to the injured area. Together these cells help clear the injured area of foreign substances in the area and promote healing. Overall, the main effect from ultrasound during this stage is a decrease in swelling and pain.

Proliferative StageUltrasound used for shoulder pain

After the acute stage ultrasound helps what we call the proliferative stage by stimulating fibroblast activity. Fibroblasts are stimulated which then secrete collagen. The collagen secretion helps increase the tensile strength and wound contraction of the injured area. This not only helps the injured area heal faster, but makes the area stronger and less susceptible to injuries in the future. Also at this stage of healing the ultrasound machine is used at a different frequency that produces heat in the area it is being used. This heat promotes blood flow to the area which helps deliver nutrients required for healing. The increased blood flow also helps remove toxins and other broken down substances.

How It Can Help You

These physiological changes caused by the ultrasound have many benefits in all types of soft tissue injures. Tennis elbow, heel pain, back sprains, patellar tendonitis, knee pain and shoulder pain are just a few of the common injuries that can be helped with therapeutic ultrasound. If you have any further questions about ultrasound and how it can help you, please give our office a call at 763.390.1323.