Healing Foot & Ankle Injuries with Laser Therapy

When you have foot or ankle injuries like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon problems, or a sprained ankle, there are a variety of ways to help the healing process along.

Depending on your specific case, we might start you out with a treatment plan consisting of RICE therapy or custom orthotics to correct faulty foot movements or foot structures. These—along with any anti-inflammatory medications we prescribe—can be the starting point in relieving your symptoms.

However, when you need pain relief from a chronic problem that these remedies haven’t fully addressed, laser therapy could be the next step before more invasive measures like injections or surgery to resolve your foot issues.


Increased Use of Lasers in Medicine

Lasers—highly-concentrated beams of light—have made a transition from key elements of science fiction to a valuable tool used in medical practice. As you encounter them more frequently in the field of healthcare, it’s important to know what to expect from laser treatment.

This form of concentrated light can serve a variety of functions in the overall field of medical practice, including treating varicose veins, removing tumors, skin surgery, repairing detached retinas, and even removing kidney stones and the prostate.

These light beams come from safe sources, so there is no inherent harm or health risks for either the patient or the medical team performing a procedure. Given the precise, focused nature of lasers, they can enable a doctor to safely treat a very specific area without damaging surrounding tissue.

Using lasers has been a tremendous advancement for the medical community, and it certainly has its place in the field of podiatry.

How Laser Therapy Works for Foot and Ankle Injuries

During laser treatment, the light energy is able to deeply penetrate into cells that have been damaged and stimulate healing activity by accelerating cellular growth and reproduction.

This therapy is particularly effective for soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments, all of which are found in great abundance in the feet (and are frequently affected by injury). The specific light wavelengths used can trigger a strong anti-inflammatory response in these tissues. Anti-inflammatory response is essential for reducing levels of swelling and pain.

When using this state-of-the-art technique, we begin by outlining the area to be treated and then apply the laser to the appropriate area in a rhythmic manner. We precisely calibrate the laser to deliver the energy in predetermined pulses, wavelengths, therapeutic dosages, and durations.

Continuous laser emissions continue during the session to create the aforementioned healing responses, while at the same time providing an effective therapeutic effect. Essentially, this means the laser works to quickly bring damaged cells back up to an optimal condition and you will likely start to feel better at the same time.

On a more technical level, the amplified light energy travels through the skin and outer tissues to reach the damaged cells. Once there, the energy is absorbed by the mitochondria – parts of the cell that use the glucose in your blood and transform it into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the fuel used by cells for repair and growth, so this is obviously an essential benefit of laser therapy.

As the mitochondria are stimulated, it speeds up the rate at which they release ATP into the cells. The cells take up this energy and begin to repair themselves and divide, healing the damage and creating strong new tissue.

Laser therapy for sports injuries

Laser Therapy Advantages

The advantage over other treatment methods is that you are merely stimulating your body’s own healing mechanisms, rather than introducing drugs or chemicals into your system, or using injections or surgery to try to relieve your symptoms.

An added benefit to this particular practice is improved circulation to an injured or damaged area, which further assists in the healing processes by bringing the essential oxygen, water, and nutrients to nourish the cells and promote recovery. This contributes to reduced levels of stiffness and the frequency of existing muscle spasms.

If reduced pain, faster healing, and improved circulatory function aren’t enough, laser therapy is proven to be safe and painless.

In fact, this treatment is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the regulatory branch of the federal government tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that medical devices will not harm patients. The U.S. FDA uses rigorous auditing and testing process to verify the safety and efficacy of medical equipment.

An overwhelming majority of patients who undergo the process report having no pain or other sensation during therapy and the average time of treatment is less than ten minutes. Whereas some pharmacological solutions to pain and medical conditions come with undesired side effects, there are no such known issues for laser therapy.

Most sports injuries that involve soft tissue damage in a foot or ankle can benefit from this treatment, but it is especially effective for tendon and ligament issues such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and ankle sprains. It can also work well on pulled muscles, bursitis, and even help repair tiny cracks in your bones (stress fractures).

Laser treatment can provide benefit for both acute and chronic conditions. Acute conditions may require only one phase of treatment, whereas patients with chronic ones see continued improvement during the course of regular treatment sessions (since the results are cumulative and build up over time).

In short, some of the top benefits of MLS treatment include:

  • Pain relief. Damaged tissue is painful in itself, but inflammation and swelling can also put pressure on surrounding tissue, increasing your discomfort. Laser therapy lessens pain by helping tissues to heal and also by reducing swelling and inflammation.
  • Accelerated tissue repair and cellular growth. Cells absorb the photon energy, which leads to faster growth and repair for our patients.
  • Improved vascular activity. The formation of new capillaries is particularly beneficial because this speeds up your healing process, reduces scar tissue, and closes wounds more quickly, thereby reducing your risk of potential infection.
  • Reduced inflammation. Damaged tissue becomes inflamed because your body sends extra blood to the area to increase the level of nutrients needed for healing. The tissue becomes engorged, red, and warm. As laser light waves speed up healing of the tissues, inflammation is reduced, and the tissues “calm down.”
  • Increased metabolic activity. Not only will the damaged cells receive greater quantities of oxygen, water, and nutrients from the improved circulation, they will also be able to take in and use the nourishment more efficiently.
  • Improved immune function. Laser light stimulates lymphocytes and immunoglobulins, which are essential components of the immune system.
  • Increased antimicrobial activity. Laser therapy may enhance your immune function to keep infection at bay while your tissues are recovering.

Additionally, you will find that this treatment contributes to reduced frequency and muscles spasms in the area.

As always, we will take the time to consider your particular situation and work to determine what kind of program is the right one for your foot or ankle injury.

After we’ve carefully considered the matter, we will discuss your options together and provide our professional recommendation to you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Remember, we want you to make an informed decision.

Contact Us Today So We Can Take Away Your Pain!

Our podiatry practice is committed to using state-of-the-art technology to offer treatments that are effective and safe for our patients. Scheduling your appointment with our Palm Desert office is as easy as either calling (760) 568-0108 or filling out our online form.

We look forward to the chance to provide the care you need and restore your feet back to health, so contact us today!

Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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