A research study conducted by Harvard Medical School reported that patients suffering with long term peripheral nerve injury showed progressive improvement in nerve motor function with the use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) leading to significant functional recovery.
There are many different forms of near infrared lasers (NIR) on the market. The pricing on NIR lasers can vary significantly from $100 up to $20,000 dollars. Before you run out and purchase a hundred dollar NIR laser, it’s important to realize that not all NIR’s have the same ability to repair a damaged peripheral nerve; therefore, it’s important to be familiar with the therapeutic benefits and differences of infrared lasers.
In order to elicit nerve repair in peripheral nerves, the infrared light wavelength must be between 800 nm – 1100 nm. This range of wavelength allows for penetration of 4-6 inches deep within the tissue. Medical evidence shows that NIR triggers Nitric Oxide (NO) release, found to be extremely beneficial for neuropathy sufferers.
Benefits of Nitric Oxide (NO)
- Increases blood flow to injured or damaged nerves.
- Increases circulation, oxygen and nutrient delivery to nerves
- Stimulates proper nerve transmission
- Decreases pain by stimulating endorphin production
- Decreases muscle spasm
- Stimulates cellular reproduction
- Stimulates the production of collagen
- Increases lymphatic system activity
The vast majority of lasers owned by doctors operate between the wavelengths of 600 nm – 780nm. The problem with this wavelength of NIR is that it will only penetrate approximately 1/8 inch deep in the body, which isn’t deep enough to affect a peripheral nerve. These lasers are more popular in the medical community because they are less expensive. Although this wavelength of NIR laser does have some therapeutic benefits, it is ineffective in repairing and regenerating damaged peripheral nerves.