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Laser Treatment of Disc Herniation

Laser treatment St. John's Avalon Laser Health

The intervertral discs are located in the back, between the vertebrae, from the neck or cervical area, through the mid-back or thoracic region and also the lumbar or low-back area. They allow for mobility in an otherwise rigid spine. The discs account for 25% of the overall length of the back, and it is this height that decreases with age and injury. Most disc problems occur in the low back and neck regions, with less than 5% occuring in the mid back.

BioFlex laser is a low-level or low-intensity laser, which is most properly called photobiomodulation. Bioflex laser has been intensively researched, and continues to be so at the Meditech Laser Clinics in Toronto, as well as at other research institutes world wide.

Essentially all normal cells have light energy receptors, sensitive to energy within the environment, a well known example of which is the ability to absorb ultraviolet rays to suntan. Injured or damaged cells are sensitive to red and infrared light energy, which they use to restore normal cell function and structure. The laser stimulation provides the energy the cell needs to recover more quickly. Low level laser also has an analgesic effect, which is used to good effect,
especially by those who want to reduce their use of pain medication, or who would prefer not to take medication.

Bioflex laser therapy is used to successfully heal spinal disc pathology but the course of treatment is longer than is typically expected of other joints …for two reasons. First the intervertebral discs have no blood supply of their own, and rely on diffusion of blood from the vertebrae to provide nutrients to the disc. Secondly, the disc wall is composed of collagen, which, always slow to heal and when injured, tends to replace itself with less resilient materials.
Bioflex laser promotes circulation and the development of new blood vessels. It also promotes the production of the resilient, Type 1, collagen fibers.

What to expect from Bioflex laser treatment for disc pathology:

  1. While the length of treatment varies with degree of injury, general health and other factors, the bioflex experience is that most patients, with moderate to severe injury, will require in excess of 20 treatments. The sooner treatment is started, the more optimistic the outcome. Also true, the more certain the diagnosis, the more likely a good result can be achieved.
  2. Initially, 3 to 4 consecutive treatments are recommended, then 3 times per week until 50% to 60% better; twice per week until 80% better; then once per week until you have returned to your usual pre-injury activities.
  3. Each treatment will be between 40 and 70 minutes, depending upon extent of and depth of injured tissue.
  4. Treatment protocols are modified, depending upon your feedback. During the first 3 to 4 treatments, your sensitivity to the laser energy is determined. Thereafter, your response to treatment is key to protocol change. It is important to note that both no change in symptoms or an increase in symptoms may indicate that the protocol should be changed.
  5. You are completely in charge of the laser component of your treatment plan…if you feel better, continue. If there is no improvement, stop. However, please discuss with your therapist, because plateaus are a normal part of recovery; and stopping too soon will jeopardize or entirely miss a full recovery.

Most of the time a disc injury develops because of repetitive strain, often relating to poor sitting or standing postures. If you are able to correct these postures, your disc injury will heal much more quickly, and is less likely to recur.
If your disc injury is the result of an accident, such as a motor vehicle accident, consider the sitting and standing postures you assume while the disc is trying to heal….even if you had no pain and great posture before an injury, the resting positions you assume while healing are very important to normal healing. This is a time to be mindful of good sitting, standing and sleeping postures.

The very best treatment for lumbar disc disease will always include multiple health disciplines; notably physiotherapy to ensure normal mobility and function, massage therapy to help break down scar tissue and trigger points; and sometimes acupuncture, especially if stress complicates the pain presentation.


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