Elsie has been a patient at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging for years. So when she called me in tears, I told her to come in right away…
Elsie was leaving on her dream vacation to Africa in less than a week.
But she could barely stand up.
Her lower back pain was so severe she didn’t even think she could handle the 19-hour flight from Miami to Kenya. Let alone the six-hour drive from the capital city of Nairobi to the Maasai Mara Reserve, where she was going on a week-long safari.
Elsie was desperate for relief but didn’t want to manage the pain with prescription or over-the-counter muscle relaxants or painkillers. She was worried that the side effects of these drugs would ruin her trip.
When she walked through the front door of the clinic, Elsie was hunched over and clutching her lower back. I brought her into the exam room, where we had our laser therapy set up.
I’m a big believer in non-invasive low-level laser therapy. It works for both acute and chronic pain. It combats pain by stimulating cells to reduce inflammation and speed up healing.
And studies back it up.
In one study, 30 patients with chronic lower back pain were randomly divided into a red light laser group and a laser placebo group. Both groups underwent treatment three times a week for four weeks.1
The patients were evaluated throughout the study with both pain questionnaires and thermography. By the end of the study, the researchers wrote that the “scores of the Pain Disability Index and maximum pain intensity during day and night significantly reduced” in the patients who received laser therapy.
Two additional studies of 151 people found that the relapse rate in patients who had laser therapy compared to a control group was significantly lower after a six-month follow-up evaluation.2
At the Sears Institute, I use different colored lasers to treat different issues. Here’s a quick look at what red, blue, and green lasers can treat…
I get a lot of questions about how this therapy works. Here’s what I tell patients like Elsie…
During the procedure, different wavelengths and outputs of low-level light are applied directly to the targeted area. The body tissue then absorbs the light. The red and near-infrared light causes a reaction, and the damaged cells respond with a physiological reaction that promotes regeneration.
You will feel the laser when it touches your skin. However, the entire procedure is painless and noninvasive. You won’t feel any vibration or heat. Each treatment usually takes just a few minutes.
I talked to Elsie once she came back from her trip. It was her dream vacation in every way – and the entire trip was pain-free.
Stretch Away Pain Every Day
While laser light therapy helped Elsie recover in time for her trip, I also gave her some simple stretches to do in order to keep herself loose and limber. You see, as we age, our flexibility decreases. Certain muscles shorten, and your ligaments get weaker, causing you to lose your range of motion. This can cause a host of back problems.
One of the first things you should do is to make stretching a part of your daily routine. This stretch is one you can do before you even get out of bed:
- Sit up with your legs straight out. Slowly try bending forward to touch your toes. Hold for about 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
- While still sitting up, turn your torso to the left and then to the right. Repeat 10 times. Lay back down.
- While lying flat on your back, bend your right knee, grab it with both hands and try bringing it up to your chest. Hold for a few seconds, and then release.
- Repeat with your left leg 10 times.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Momenzadeh S, et al. “Evaluation of the effects of intravenous and percutaneous low level laser therapy in the management of myofascial pain syndrome.” J Lasers Med Sci. 2016 Winter;7(1):16-20. doi: 10.15171/jlms.2016.04. Epub 2016 Jan 7.
2. Yousefi-Nooraie R, et a. “Low level laser therapy for nonspecific low-back pain.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Apr 16;(2):CD005107.