Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Can a beam of light cure chronic pain?

Laser therapy is something normally associated with beauty treatments such as hair removal - but now a new form of it, low-level laser therapy (LLLT), is being used to help reduce pain, heal wounds and even knit broken bones.

We are all exposed to light every day without these apparently extraordinary benefits - what makes LLLT different, explains Professor Mary Dyson, former director of the Tissue Repair Unit of Guy's hospital in London, is that this particular light operates at a wavelength which encourages the body to start healing itself.

'It stimulates the cells to start producing all sorts of growth factors, which is why it can help with wound healing and bone repair,' she says. 'It also has an effect similar to an anti-inflammatory drug — hence the pain relief.'

Speeding up bone healing by beaming light onto it may sound a bit flaky, but American researchers are taking it very seriously.

In fact, it may even help regrow spines one day, according to Dr Juanita Anders of the Uniformed Services University in Maryland, who has been testing its effects on the damaged spinal cords of rats. Besides causing the nerves to regrow to some extent, it reduces inflammation.

At the Medical College of Wisconsin, researchers have been using LLLT to restore the vision of rats whose retinas have been deliberately damaged. They reported that 95 per cent of the injuries were repaired.

Source - Daily Mail


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