Info about laser

caution 300While there is a wide range of indications for the use of laser therapy, there are also a few contraindications, as well as alleged contraindications, that practitioners should be aware of. These contraindications are relative (as opposed to absolute), though, and should be considered professionally in regards to the actual patient.

 

The contraindications that are often mentioned include the following:

  • Pregnancy
  • Epilepsy
  • Thyroid gland
  • Coagulation disorders
  • Children
  • Cancer
  • Brain damage
  • Radiation therapy patients
  • Diabetes
  • Tatoos

The following is a short summary of each contraindication.

Pregnancy and laser therapy

It might be advisable not to apply large doses of laser therapy over the abdomen.

A study has showed cell damage on chicken embryos after laser light had been applied through an opening in the egg, but there is no documentation of damaging effects on human embryos.

Also, there appears to be no documentation indicating that treatment in areas not related to the uterus or abdomen would have any damaging effects.

If, however, complications should arise after treating a pregnant woman with therapeutic laser therapy, the practitioner might risk having to prove that the laser is not to blame, and it is therefore important to be careful.

Epilepsy

Pulsed visible light in the 5-10 Hz range can cause epileptic seizures. However, lasers for therapeutic use rarely have visible pulsing light. One study showed that an epilepsy patient was only able to tolerate laser light with a frequency below 800 Hz.

Thyroid gland

Some studies have shown positive results with treating the thyroid gland. However, because the thyroid gland is light sensitive, it might be advisable not to treat the gland directly until more research has been done.  

Coagulation disorders

It has been determined that laser therapy does have an effect on coagulation mechanisms, however, it is not currently known how it affects them.

Children

The dosage of laser light should be adjusted to the weight of the child, however, nothing indicates that children should not be treated.

Cancer

By law in some countries, a patient with cancer, or suspected cancer, cannot be treated by anyone but an expert in the field.  In time, laser therapy might be able to assist in the treatment of pain and for general stimulation for terminal patients.

Irradiation of the brain

Laser irradiation in areas of the brain has not been found to be harmful, and the effects of laser therapy on stroke appear to be encouraging. However, before more research has been done, it is recommended not to target the brain.

Radiation therapy patients

For some reason, patients undergoing radiation therapy have been regarded as contraindicative, even though the radiation is different from the laser light. In fact, more and more studies show positive effects on these patients’ immune system and their circulating blood, which could have an effect on other parts of their body.

Diabetes

There appear to be no indications that laser therapy would have negative effects on diabetes.  On the contrary, it seems to help in increasing the blood flow and in wound healing and might therefore be beneficial for treating the circulatory side effects in diabetics.

Tattoos

Tattoos are not a contraindication per se, but they should be treated with caution because the pigments of the tattoo will absorb the laser light and the area could turn warm and painful. It is therefore advisable to start the treatment at a distance and then move the laser closer to the skin based on feedback from the patient.

Conclusion

The contraindications for laser therapy are only relative, not absolute. However, one should take into consideration any potential, unwanted side effects before starting the treatment.

Pacemakers are sometimes mentioned as a contraindication, however, this is only the case with lasers where the laser energy is delivered through electric or magnetic impulses. Besides warmth, lasers from PowerMedic Lasers deliver only laser (=light energy). Light is not known for damaging objects that are enclosed in metal. 

Source: The New Laser Therapy Handbook, Tuner & Hode, Prima Books 2010  

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