Dr. Jake Cooke, one of the pioneers in the UK utilizing Erchonia lasers, shares his invaluable experience with Photobiomodulation and its profound effects on cartilage injuries.
1. What is Osteoarthritis?
- Most prevalent form of arthritis
- Marked by pain, inflammation of the joint capsule, compromised muscular stability, reduced range of motion, and functional disability
- Damage to the articular cartilage results in narrowing of the joint space
- Estimated lifetime risk stands at 46% in adults
2. The Rising Concern
- With the aging baby boomer generation, osteoarthritis prevalence is on the rise
- Obesity, a major risk factor, is prevalent with nearly two-thirds of UK adults overweight
- Joint injuries like a meniscus tear can heighten osteoarthritis risk
The Gold Standard Treatment
1. Non-pharmacological and Non-surgical Interventions
- Surgery: the last resort
- Pharmacological treatments can present side effects. E.g., NSAIDs can offer cartilage protection but can also trigger gastrointestinal issues
2. The Power of Movement: Exercise and Yoga
- Exercise aids in pain relief, improved function, and enhanced quality of life
- Yoga, with its holistic approach, has shown moderate evidence in reducing pain and boosting mobility
- Other movement-based activities, such as Tai Chi, also beneficial
3. Manual Therapy:
- Moderate evidence shows improvements in pain, stiffness, and knee function through SMT, manipulation, and mobilization
- Techniques include clinical massage and Swedish massage
Photobiomodulation: A New Hope?
1. Unraveling the Effects
- Research shows it aids in cartilage repair, improves blood flow, stabilizes synovial membrane, and positively alters antigen-antibody complexes
- Osteoarthritis results from mechanical stress leading to inflammation, often exacerbated by cytokines like Interleukin 1b and tumor necrosis factor alpha
2. The Research Conundrum
- Early studies (around 2004) were inconclusive about the effectiveness of low-level lasers in osteoarthritis treatment
- Later studies, however, have shown more promising results
3. Benefits for Small Joints
- The existing research indicates better outcomes for smaller joints, such as in TMD or hands and feet, when treated with low-level lasers
4. On Wavelengths and Their Effects
- Studies suggest combining lasers of two different wavelengths, particularly shorter wavelengths like 600um, show more positive outcomes
The potential of Photobiomodulation in treating cartilage conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and TMD is promising. However, more research, especially on shorter wavelengths, is crucial before a definitive conclusion can be drawn. As Dr. Cooke’s experiences reveal, there’s optimism in the air, but science often needs time to catch up with practice.