Ultrasound is the most commonly used electrotherapy, it is however limited in its effectiveness and limited in its range of applications (ultrasound should not be used over bony prominences, pins, plates and very acute injuries).
Physiotherapists are now turning to laser therapy (which can be used safely in these areas) and finding they are using it more and more. Says Sue Bunn, MCSP, SRP, physio to the British Paragliding Team, " I would not like to be faced with all the acute injuries we see without a laser. Since I've had a laser I can not be bothered with ultrasound and all that gel".This is a comment heard from many physios who find laser easy to learn and simple to use.
Laser Therapy works differently from ultrasound, it works quickly from within the cell and often resolves conditions that have not responded to manual therapy or ultrasound treatments.
Matt Jevon, Chief Executive of The British Association of Sports Trainers and visiting lecturer in Sports Rehabilitation at the University of Salford is very excited about this modality. "Laser therapy is our most commonly used electrotherapy apparatus, particularly in acute cases. We have used it in our support of over 300 players in the Student Rugby League World Cup with considerable success when compared against other electrotherapy and mechanical modalities.
It is used as an adjunct to many of the manual therapies practised by our physiotherapists, all of whom appreciate the benefits of accuracy in application. We currently have two laser units and it will be first on our purchasing list after plinths as we expand into new clinics."
With modern higher power laser components, Laser Therapy is more effective than in the past. Simpler laser treatment protocols have now been developed that enable users to give fast, effective treatments for both acute injuries and difficult conditions.
Says Sarah Cooper, physio to the British Athletic Team "I use laser immediately on acute injuries, it is a very useful adjunct to have at major sporting games, treating acute and chronic injuries alongside manual therapy for pain relief and reduction of inflammation.".
Laser Therapy is considered to be one of the safest forms of electrotherapy and has more published research evidence supporting it than any other electrotherapy. It is used by physiotherapists for pain relief, resolution of inflammation and tissue repair. A 1991 survey showed it to be the most effective electrotherapy for pain relief and wound healing - since then many ultrasound users have become laser enthusiasts.
Is Laser Therapy overtaking ultrasound?