Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Advanced Laser Therapy

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Advanced Laser Therapy

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful condition, as it ends up getting in the way of normal hand strength, grip, and mobility. Nonetheless, this is a common peripheral nerve disorder, because it’s often associated with repetitive use of the hands.

Fortunately, there is a treatment for this condition that takes a more natural approach as an alternative to pain medications or surgery. This treatment is advanced laser therapy. Let’s take a look at what it is and how it helps this problem.

How Does Carpal Tunnel Start?

CTS is generally caused by repetitive hand work and overuse injuries, so it can happen when people perform the same hand movements over and over. People can develop this problem from their work activities like continuous typing or hands-on work, such as kneading dough or turning a screwdriver. It can also arise from hobbies that involve the hands, such as gaming with a controller, knitting, or using a smartphone.

Nonetheless, there are some other causes of CTS as well. These include:

  • A family history
  • Arthritis or another joint/bone disease
  • Hormonal changes
  • Wrist injury

Regardless of the cause, CTS results in the same kinds of symptoms.

Why Is Carpal Tunnel a Problem?

In time, the continuous movement of the hand and wrist creates problems. It tends to go beyond slight pain or discomfort that would go away when you stop the movement and instead can become a continuous, progressive concern that interferes with your daily activities and quality of life.

This problem affects the median nerve of the wrist, through an entrapment neuropathy that often results in pain and inflammation. Other symptoms may include numbness, weakness, and tingling in the hands and fingers. A medical professional can provide a diagnosis to determine if you have carpal tunnel syndrome.

What Are Treatment Options for CTS?

Hand surgery is often used for carpal tunnel syndrome. But this is not the only option and may not always be necessary or the optimal first course of action, especially for mild to moderate cases.

Also, people may use pain medications to help with the pain and discomfort, yet these do not solve the problem, and many people do not want to continuously use them. These options include over-the-counter pain medications, prescription pain medications, or cortisone injections.

Advanced laser therapy offers an alternative as a non-surgical, non-pharmacological pain management tool and way to treat carpal tunnel and its symptoms.

How Can Advanced Laser Therapy Help?

Advanced laser therapy is a tool that can address the symptoms of CTS and promote nerve regeneration. This treatment may go by different names, including cold laser therapy, low level laser therapy, red light therapy, or photobiomodulation therapy.

This type of therapy is associated with various actions that could help the hands and wrists affected by carpal tunnel syndrome, including:

  • Relieving pain
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Stimulating healing of damaged tissue

Even more impressive and helpful for CTS, photobiomodulation can help the body regenerate nerves. It does this by encouraging the body’s own processes that regenerate and heal nerves. By emitting light wavelengths that reach the body’s deep tissue, laser therapy encourages the body to produce nerve growth factors. It helps speed up the body’s nerve healing ability, which tends to be slow on its own. When nerves are healed, the person gains an improved ability of the affected part of the body to communicate with the brain, which improves associated symptoms of the disconnection.

Does Laser Therapy Really Work?

Research backs up the idea that laser therapy can help alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms. A study in the Journal of the Faculty of Medicine Baghdad looked at low level laser therapy (LLLT) compared to a sham laser for mild to moderate CTS. The study found that laser therapy resulted in a significant pain reduction of 70.9 percent, among other benefits.

Also, a systematic review and meta-analysis, published in the journal, Medicine, was carried out to see if low level laser therapy is effective for mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. The review found that laser therapy showed significant improvement in hand grip strength, in the visual analog scale (VAS), and in the sensory nerve action potential (SNAP).

Laser Therapy From Aspen Laser

Laser therapy provides a safe, effective, non-pharmacological, and non-surgical way to address carpal tunnel syndrome. Aspen Laser uses a high intensity laser therapy, which is an advanced laser treatment that offers deeply penetrating red and near-infrared light. Providers can adjust the wavelengths to stimulate the desired biologic effects in each patient. In this case, Aspen providers would perform photobiomodulation for the hands and wrists to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

Laser Therapy as a Treatment Option for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

The Effects of Laser Therapy on Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can affect people with diabetes.

Research suggests laser therapy may be a possible treatment and drug-free pain relief option for people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Medical professionals use the term neuropathy to describe nerve damage. A number of medical conditions can cause the nerve damage of neuropathy, but diabetes is the most common cause. In fact, peripheral neuropathy is the most common complication of type 2 diabetes, affecting between 60 and 70 percent of people with diabetes.

Diabetes can damage the nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which is the network of nerves that sends signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body and back. Peripheral nerves send sensory information from your hands and feet to your brain, for example, such as messages that your fingers and toes are cold. Peripheral nerves also send messages of pain from your body to your brain, and send instructions from your brain to your muscles, digestive organs, immune system, and more.

How Diabetes Causes Peripheral Neuropathy

Diabetes is a condition in which the body has trouble using sugar, or glucose, for energy. Your digestive tract converts the carbohydrates and sugars you eat into glucose, which your cells use as fuel. Your bloodstream transports the glucose to various parts of your body. With a little help from the hormone insulin, your cells absorb the glucose and function normally. Specifically, insulin “unlocks” your cells to allow glucose inside.

Immediately after you eat, the level of glucose in your blood rises. Glucose levels drop as insulin unlocks cells to allow for the absorption of blood sugar. In people without diabetes, the cells have no problem absorbing glucose. In people with diabetes, however, the cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. Insulin resistance causes the glucose to remain in the bloodstream instead of moving into cells.

While glucose provides energy when used correctly, the presence of excess sugar can damage delicate tissue, such as nerves. Over time, excess glucose can damage nerves and interfere with the nerve’s ability to send signals to the spinal cord and brain. High glucose levels, also known as hyperglycemia, can also damage the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.

Signs and symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy typically affects a person’s feet and legs first, followed by their arms and hands. These signs and symptoms are often worse at night. Symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Numbness or reduced ability to feel temperature changes or pain
  • Burning or tingling sensation
  • Sharp pains or cramps
  • Increased sensitivity to touch – even the weight of a bedsheet can cause pain
  • Serious foot problems, such as infections, ulcers (sores), and bone and joint pain

The nerve damage and reduced sensation in your feet make it easier to injure your feet and develop infections. Because you cannot feel any discomfort, infections, ulcers, and even gangrene can develop easily. Poor circulation associated with diabetes also makes it harder for your feet to heal. In extreme cases, untreated diabetic peripheral neuropathy can even result in amputation of the extremity. In fact, more than half of all amputations performed each year are associated with diabetes.

Laser Therapy for the Treatment of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Also known as photobiomodulation (PBMT), laser therapy uses specific infrared wavelengths of light, one that is known to impart health benefits. While these wavelengths are invisible to the naked eye, infrared light can cause a number of beneficial changes inside the body.

The light penetrates the skin to reach nerve tissue deep inside. Once absorbed by your tissues, the light stimulates the production of nerve growth factors, which are special compounds that help regenerate and heal damaged nerves. PBMT also improves the transmission of messages in peripheral nerves and strengthens the impulses traveling through the affected nerves.

Use of high intensity laser therapy can help reduce many of the signs of diabetic peripheral neuropathy by:

  • Easing pain
  • Accelerating nerve repair and regeneration
  • Improving nerve function
  • Speeding healing

Science supports the use of laser therapy for the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. In fact, in one study, participants with the condition who underwent PBMT enjoyed a 75 percent improvement of their diabetic neuropathy pain.

Laser therapy is also highly customizable, which makes PBMT perfect for people with diabetes, as everyone with diabetic peripheral neuropathy experiences the condition in their own way. The advanced features of Apex Laser System and Aspen Laser’s TriWave technology makes it the best intervention for the nonpharmacologic treatment of pain, numbness, and other symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

For more information about how laser therapy can help treat diabetic peripheral neuropathy, consult with your healthcare professional, physical therapist, or PBMT provider.

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