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Epidural Positioning and Laser Therapy for Improved Patient Comfort

Epidural Positioning and Laser Therapy for Improved Patient Comfort featured image

Lasers have been approved for pain management since the late 1990s, but there is an ancillary avenue that physicians are only now beginning to explore. Pain management practices are finding that low-level laser therapy can effectively numb the injection site prior to the delivery of an epidural steroid or antibiotic for treatment of chronic pain such as sciatica.

Just a few decades ago, it would have been rare for physicians to prescribe nutritional supplements or probiotics to patients.

Today, these vitamins and supplements are routinely recommended, thanks to individual doctors and researchers who had an interest in changing clinical practice and finding new avenues to improve patients’ health.

Low-level laser therapy is a recent example of a therapy where the clinical practice is actively ApolloSingle.jpgevolving. In 1983, when I first began practicing as a chiropractor, there were perhaps only 100 health care practitioners in the country who were treating patients with laser therapy. Today, it’s estimated that more than 20,000 pain management and other practices are using lasers to reduce or eliminate pain. 

Lasers have been approved for pain management since the late 1990s, but there is an ancillary avenue that physicians are only now beginning to explore. Pain management practices are finding that low-level laser therapy can effectively numb the injection site prior to the delivery of an epidural steroid or antibiotic for treatment of chronic pain such as sciatica.

Unlike topical rubs or injections of novocaine or lidocaine, which offer only superficial numbness, a 20-second “shot” of laser penetrates several inches into the injection site, sedating the nerves and also relaxing the tissues, making it easier for the practitioner to deliver the injection. 

Following the injection, laser can also have further benefits: Research has shown that treatment a couple of times a week at the pain site can actually improve the effectiveness of epidural steroids. 

While this is still considered a novel approach, it’s also an example of a patient-centered approach that can greatly mitigate the potential discomfort of these injections and also improve their effectiveness. Practitioners interested in exploring this method of treatment may want to consider first using laser for direct pain management, then combining it with an epidural positioning device for more comfortable injections and follow-up for patients who require epidural injections or nerve blocks for chronic pain.

With greater acceptance and increased practice, laser’s applications—much like nutritional supplements—can become a traditional modality for relieving all types of pain. 


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