Cold laser therapy may sound like science fiction, but there’s a large emerging body of evidence that cold lasers are incredibly useful for a variety of health problems. Countless patients with chronic and acute conditions have successfully turned to cold lasers to eliminate swelling, reduce pain, and otherwise improve their health.
Cold Laser Therapy in Practice
In a clinical environment, cold laser therapy involves placing a specially designed laser over an injury for several minutes. The laser emits photons with very little thermal energy, and directs them towards an injury on your body. The light penetrates as deep as 5 centimeters through your skin, depending on the power of the laser.
As that light passes through you, it ends up absorbed by your cells, where it’s believed to interact with light sensitive cellular elements. And the resulting increase in cellular metabolism within the treated area helps speed up the recovery of damaged tissues.
Among doctors who’ve examined cold laser therapy closely, the consensus seems to be that for moderate pain produced by a number of conditions, cold laser therapy seems effective. Those conditions mostly include things like tendonitis, carpal tunnel, arthritis, back pain, and other problems related to muscles and ligaments.
Choosing the Right Cold Laser
Unfortunately, cold laser therapy is also still a bit of a mystery. It seems to work for many people, but the specific mechanisms involved aren’t well understood. Not enough research has been done to determine uniform dosing standards, or even the number of necessary treatments. As a result, it can be tough to choose the right cold laser for at home therapy.
It’s no secret that powerful lasers can damage your eyes, but powerful lasers are also necessary for cold laser therapy. That’s why for the purposes of at home treatment, it’s important to pay attention to the class of the lase you select. For example, class 4 lasers are capable of causing damage to your eyes immediately, ignite combustible materials, and may be prone to heating up when used inappropriately.
For at home therapy, class I lasers are by far your safest choice. In a clinical setting, or with extreme confidence in your ability to safely handle a cold laser, alternative classes are sometimes worth considering. But the vast majority of at-home therapy should make use of what are called class 1M lasers. As long as you don’t magnify the laser through a telescope or similar device, class 1M lasers are completely safe. Although you probably still don’t want to point the laser directly at your eyes, you’ll be completely safe if an accident occurs.
The FDA offers approval for a number of medical devices, including cold lasers. FDA approval means that independent experts contracted through the FDA have determined the benefits of some treatment outweigh its risks. It’s a process that involves rigorous testing, and ultimately ensures whatever device you select will be as safe as possible, which is the kind of assurance you want from a medical treatment.
But testing is a long and involved process, which is why you’ll find cold laser manufacturers who sought FDA approval tend to have more expensive products. If you’re treating a non-human animal, then you can likely save money by using a device without FDA approval, without any significant added safety risks.
In short, if you understand the specifications of the device you end up choosing, then you don’t have to worry about FDA approval. But if you don’t understand cold laser technology, then there’s no doubt that you want to stick with approved devices.
Anytime you’re dealing with medical devices, it’s safe to assume that budget will be a concern. More expensive lasers tend to offer higher power settings, which can result in shorter therapy. For people with an acute problem, therapy time is less of an issue. You may end up using the device only a few dozen times until you’re healed and feeling better.
But anyone dealing with chronic pain will be using their cold laser often enough that treatment times can quickly add up. If you can carve out time to treat yourself while you’re watching TV or relaxing, then you’ll probably be fine using a lower powered device. Otherwise, it may be prudent to seek out a higher powered device that can help you get more treatment in less time.
Continuous Laser vs. Pulse Laser
Most cold lasers are built to emit pulse waves of laser radiation. The pulse design allows the device to emanate higher peak power levels while remaining safe. The continuous design allows higher doses within the same amount of time. Some cold lasers products may only offer one or the other, while some can provide both. If it’s within your budget, having a laser that provides both can make the device far more versatile, enabling you to switch between a focus on healing and pain relief.
The amount of light penetration you can achieve during therapy depends on the wavelength of the light emitted, and the power of the laser involved. Unfortunately, the specific amount of power necessary for treatment is a highly contentious and ultimately unsettled question. Generally speaking, having more power will enable shorter treatment times and higher doses.
But that doesn’t mean that more modestly powered devices aren’t worthy of your consideration. The only devices with power output that’s unquestionably too low for therapeutic purposes are those with enormously low power outputs, far less than 100mW. Being so low, they’re generally very easy to spot and avoid.
The specific wavelengths of light used is another highly contentions and unsettled point. The majority of cold lasers on the market operate between 800nm and 860nm, but some manufacturers also build between 600nm and 680nm. There’s no medical consensus on which wavelength is best, or which conditions respond better, so for that choice you’ll have to rely on your best judgement.
Terraquant TQ Solo ULTIMATE Cold Therapy Laser System
Although there’s little information about the specific doses and protocols you should use for cold laser treatment, that doesn’t mean you have to rely on guesswork. One of the largest collections of research on cold laser treatment protocols is the Laser-Therapy.US project. The Terraquant TQ Solo laser combines that protocol library with a highly portable laser, making it a great choice for anyone who’s just getting started with cold laser therapy.
The TQ Solo uses a class 1M laser, allowing a very high power output of 500mW, all without the potential for eye damage. The laser itself makes use of 3 separate wavelengths, 905nm, 875nm, and 660nm. The longer wavelengths require more power output, in order to appropriately increase the intensity of the light.
Innate support for the Laser-Therapy.US project is an incredibly powerful tool because it allows this device to be dynamically adapted to treat a person based on their skin color, size, and therapy goals. If you’ve never used a cold laser before, you’ll probably appreciate the included user documentation and high resolution instructional graphics. The resulting experience isn’t totally unlike being treated in a professional clinic.
If you run into a problem or otherwise need training to use the device, TerraQuant includes phone support. They also include a two-year warranty, two pairs of protective glasses, a hard-shell carrying case, charger, and instructive user manual.
MadeMax Cold Laser Therapy Device
MadeMax describes their cold laser as being ideal to treat arthritis, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and prostatitis. But its actual full range of treatment options is far broader, thanks to its use of more than one wavelength of light. MadeMax also makes a point of letting you know what their cold laser is suitable for the purposes of a veterinarian, especially cat, dogs, and horses. Whether you’re just getting started with cold lasers or you’ve been involved with cold laser therapy for years, MadeMax’s laser is a compelling alternative to many of the most popular cold laser products on the market.
This device provides low level laser therapy through the wavelengths of 808nm and 605nm. Regardless of the kind of ailment you’re trying to treat, the 600-800 band is a competent combination that makes this laser a strong choice. That light is provided through a completely safe 1M cold laser, designed to minimize any risks involved in the therapy.
Some lasers can be fine-tuned to accommodate differences in skin tone, others are less accommodating. Others are more straightforward. In the case of MadeMax’s laser, you’re not supposed to use it on dark black surfaces, including black hair. This is most likely because their cold laser will produce higher thermal output if applied to dark pigments, which could potentially lead to burns. If you plan on using this device on your pet, you’ll want to pay special attention to avoid black hair, and ensure you avoid dark skin under their coat.
MadeMax’s laser is built quite intuitively. The topside displays battery capacity, time left on the current treatment, and the power of the laser being used currently. The central dial allows you to toggle the on/off button, and adjust the duration you wish to use the laser. And at the base of the device you’ll find the charger socket, where you can connect the laser and charge up through the included USB line.
Thanks to the intuitive design, using the laser is quite simple. That’s particularly fortunate because the English used within the user manual isn’t very clear, leaving you to rely on the instructional graphics. Even if you’ve never used a cold laser before, you’ll be up to speed in a matter of minutes.
Tendlite Red LED Joint Reliever
If you’ve ever heard about a cold laser product, it was probably the Tendlite. As one of the most popular and common cold lasers on the market, Tendlight has a reputation for providing high quality at low cost. Their FDA-approved LED design offers medical grade joint therapy anywhere you can carry the highly portable device. Ultimately, Tendlite provides easy and safe treatment, with a strong emphasis on quick sessions.
As the name suggests, Tendlite makes use of a single wavelength of light around 660nm. There’s a considerable amount of research that indicates that wavelength is ideal for producing anti-inflammatory effects. Red light in particular seems to have an analgesic effect that can promote muscle relaxation and reduce pain. It may even increase blood circulation and reduce stiffness. If you’re dealing with the most common conditions that you would turn to for a cold laser, then this design is a great choice.
The current generation of Tendlight has made some minor improvements over earlier iterations, including the power capacity of its battery. Modern versions of the product include a spare battery, as well as a charger.
Tendlite specifically recommends one-minute-long therapy sessions, but the specific therapy protocols you use can vary depending on your state of health. You can try the Tendlight 60 days for free with their refund guarantee. And if you decide you like it, you’ll appreciate the included full year warranty, backed by USA-based construction.
Choosing Between Three Potent Cold Laser Devices
If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to add cold laser therapy to your own home, then you’ll want to choose between the Tendlite and MadeMax’s laser device. Both offer a similar range of power, quality, and treatment. But MadeMax’s laser focuses on two wavelengths of light, while the Tendlight focuses on only one.
For pain relief of chronic conditions, the red array of Tendlight is probably your best bet. On the other hand, if your therapy goals include healing damaged tissue instead of just pain relief, then you’ll want to consider choosing MadeMax’s device instead.
That leaves the Terraquant TQ Solo. Inexpensive cold laser devices are limited in their ability to adapt to different skin tones, and ultimately provide the most comprehensive and risk-free therapy possible. But premium medical devices aren’t cheap. The four-digit price tag of the Solo ensures it’s better suited to clinical application than at home use.
If a Tendlite or similar product works fine for you, then there’s no reason to seek more adaptable treatment options like the Solo. But if you want a product that can adapt its out to accommodate the latest research cold laser research data, or you’re working inside a clinical setting and interacting with countless people of various skin tones, then the Solo is an excellent choice.