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How can Low Level Light Therapy help you with injury recovery

What is the first thought that comes to mind when you think of a laser? I definitely think of a laser beam cutting through metal. Physiotherapy

So, why is a laser used for physiotherapy treatments? The fact is that low level lasers, or Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT), are a useful treatment in rehabilitation settings and have been used since the 1960s.1
Low level laser is considered a cold laser as it does not heat up the tissue, which means you should not feel a warming sensation.

Actually, you won’t feel anything during the laser treatments other than the laser head touching your skin. It seems odd that the laser has any effect at all considering that it does not feel like anything is happening during the treatment.

How does it work?

You’re probably wondering, how does this work? Is there really a benefit to this treatment in your rehabilitation? Light is used to go through the skin into the body’s tissues. At certain wavelengths the laser light promotes wound healing by:

• Reducing inflammation2
• Increasing tissue building2
• Reduce scarring2
• Reduce cell death3
• Reduce pain4
• Increase functional abilities1

Is it right for your injury?

Low level lasers are beneficial for a wide range of acute and chronic injuries. Physiotherapists often use this modality for treatments to improve your recovery process and reduce the pain you are experiencing. Injuries that benefit from Low Level Laser include, but are not limited to:

• Sprains
• Muscle or ligament tears
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Osteoarthritis
• Thoracic pain
• Low back pain
• Neck pain
• Tendinopathy
• Neurological disorders
• Edema
• Wound healing

Ask your physiotherapist if low level lasers or Low Level Light Therapy is right for you!

Author: Lorelle Warr

1. Chung H., Dai, T., Sharma, SK., Huang Y., Carroll JD., Hamblin MR. The nuts and bolts of low-level laser (light) therapy. Ann Biomed Eng. 2012; 40(2): 516-533. Doi: 10.1007/s10439-011-0454-7.
2. Silveira PCL., Silva LA., Freitas TP., Latini A., Pinho RA. Effects of low-power laser irradiation (LPLI) at different wavelengths and doses on oxidative stress and fibrogenesis parameters in an animal model of wound healing. Lasers Med Sci. 2011; 26: 125-131. Doi: 10.1007/s10103-010-0839-0.
3. Bjordal JM., Lopes-Martins RAB, Joensen J., Couppe C., Ljunggren AE., Stergioulas A., Johnson MI. A systematic review with procedural assessments and meta-analysis of low level laser therapy in lateral elbow tendinopathy (tennis elbow). BMC Musculoskelet Di. 2008; 9(75): 1-15.
4. Gupta A., Dai T., Hamblin MR. Effect of red and near-infrared wavelengths on low-level laser (light) therapy-induced healing of partial-thickness dermal abrasion in mice. Lasers Med Sci. 2014; 29: 257-265. Doi: 10.1007/s10103-013-1319-0.


Why you should be an active participant in your physio appointments?

Do you dread completing your exercises at physiotherapy appointments?physio in Grande Prairie

Do you find that your physiotherapy exercises are painful, uncomfortable, or increase swelling? This is because exercises make the muscles work, helping them to get stronger and build endurance. Unfortunately increased discomfort and swelling comes with this but does not necessarily mean that it is making your injury worse. Research states that you will see improvements with passive physiotherapy, however, there are greater improvements with active treatments.1 Passive physiotherapy includes heat, ice, machines (such as ultrasound), and traction. Exercises are needed to improve muscular strength, muscular endurance, and joint range of motion.1 The increased strength, endurance, and range of motion decrease the pain experienced with exercise and daily tasks. As a result, activities of daily living, work tasks, and recreational activities become easier and more enjoyable. The most beneficial component of your recovery is the strengthening exercises your physiotherapist has you complete.1-4

Do you have physiotherapy goals?

Physiotherapy goals help guide you and your physiotherapist through the treatment process. Physiotherapists focus on adding in exercises that simulate work-based activities and activities of daily living. For example, squats simulate picking up items off of the ground, getting up from a chair, and picking up a small child. Every exercise selected is designed to strengthen the specific muscle(s), replicate movement patterns, or loosen tight muscles to increase joint mobility. Having specific goals allows you and your physiotherapist to see your progress and determine if exercises can be progressed further.

Physiotherapy Grande PrairieWhat happens if exercises are not helping?

Sometimes exercises are not the answer, however, this can only be determined if you try the exercises and do not see the desired results. If exercises in physiotherapy are not working, then other avenues need to be explored. Sometimes it is a matter of selecting different exercises, getting a diagnostic test (e.g. x-ray or MRI), or seeing a specialist (e.g. surgeon). In most cases further exploration will not happen unless conservative treatment has been attempted. Therefore, it is in your best interest to complete exercises to the best of your ability at all times so that, if further avenues need to be explored, they understand that you have been trying everything available to you.

Is your physiotherapist prescribing exercises?

Have you been going to physiotherapy for a few weeks without exercise? Perhaps it is time to question if this is the right treatment for you. I discussed above how exercise is an important part of the recovery process. It is important for you to be doing exercises at all stages of physiotherapy. This doesn’t mean that if you had a shoulder surgery you will be lifting weights right away. You might start with stretching exercises, or passive movements of the arm (the arm is moved by your good arm or your physiotherapist). Gradually these exercises should be progressed back to what you could do before the injury, which includes lifting weights or completing movements against resistance.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact reception and ask about physiotherapy in Grande Prairie.

Post written by
Lorelle Warr, Kinesiologist


  1. Cho M., Jeong H., Hwang B. Effects of active and passive intervention programs applied to patients’ necks on their muscular strength, muscular endurance, and joint range of motion. J Phys Ther Sci 2012; 24(3): p.283-286.
  2. Andersen CH., Andersen LL., Zebis AM., Sjogaard G. Effect of scapular function training on chronic pain in the neck/shoulder region: A randomized controlled trial. J Occ Rehabil; 2014, 24(2): 316-324.
  3. Ylinen J., Takala EP., Nykanen M., Hakkinen A., et al. Active nect muscle training in the treatment of chronic neck pain in women: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA; 2003, 289(19): 2509-2516.
  4. Telci EA., Karaduman A. Effects of three different conservative treatments on pain, disability, quality of life, and mood in patients with cervical spondylosis. Rheumatol Int; 2012, 32(4): p.1033-1040.