Pain After Radiation Therapy: K-Laser Helps
by Eric Winder, DC
Radiation therapy can play a critical role in ridding the body of cancers in the throat, breast and other areas. However, despite helping to save lives, it can also cause lasting problems. The radiation can result in microscopic scarring that leaves tissue hard and inflexible. This fibrosis
can, in turn, cause stiffness and pain, affecting quality of life long after the cancer is gone.
Until recently, there have not been truly effective treatments for the issue of painful radiation fibrosis. Sometimes stretching and certain types of massage can be of help, but the underlying hardness and tenderness of the tissue does not usually change much. However, a few years ago, I made a surprising discovery when treating one of my patients who had a large
area of fibrotic tissue on his neck from radiation therapy. I used low-level laser therapy on the neck tissue as a pain treatment which proved effective.
An unusual feature that I noticed was a significant softening of the tissue when the laser was set to pulse at a specific frequency. The pain treatment was repeated over the course of two more visits. Not only was this pain greatly reduced, but the tissue remained softer, more pliable and less tender to the touch. This softening persisted on a follow-up visit several months later, as did
the pain relief.
I built on this success by continuing to use a specific frequency setting when treating painful areas of radiation fibrosis on many other patients with similar positive results. In case after case, there was pain relief, as well as softening of the fibrotic tissue. While the focus of my practice is using manual therapy to treat fascia restriction, it is difficult and time consuming to treat radiation fibrosis by hand. In our office, we now use the K-Laser brand instrument to treat these hardened and painful tissue areas, and the result is both quick and deeply effective. In most cases, between two to four treatments are required.
Patient Specific Treatment
The K-laser allows us to control the specific frequency that produces the desired treatment effect. In conjunction with laser treatment, we use a proprietary fascia tissue assessment to guide both the intensity and direction of the laser. In this way, the treatment is customized
to the individual patient. Patients who receive the K-Laser therapy for irradiated tissue typically see increased flexibility and decreased pain. When fibrosis in the ribcage is softened, it becomes
easier to breathe deeply. In the neck, there is increased flexibility and range-of-motion.
The low-level laser therapy of the K-Laser uses multiple wavelengths of light, the majority of which are in the infrared spectrum. These invisible wavelengths can safely penetrate much deeper than visible light and can affect tissues below the surface of the skin. Some types of low-level laser are referred to as cold-laser, but infrared lasers are not “cold,” as
they generate a warmth which most patients find pleasant.
Who Can Benefit?
An irradiated area must heal and be deemed free of cancer before using low-level laser to treat the area for pain. I have successfully treated patients with the K-laser as soon as a few months post-radiation, but also many have responded with pain relief even years or decades after their radiation
therapy. Low-level laser therapy is currently permitted just for pain relief, so there must be pain in the involved area in order for the treatment to be approved. Anyone with pain in an irradiated area, who is also cancer free in that area, is a potential candidate for laser therapy.
Radiation therapy is still often the most effective method to treat some types of cancer. As long as that continues to be true, it is beneficial to know there is an effective treatment for the pain of fibrotic tissue caused by the radiation. The K-Laser instrument, when used to apply low-level laser therapy to this stiffened tissue, can safely reduce pain and increase mobility.
You are invited to attend an evening program on February 27, during which you can learn in-depth about low-level laser therapy with the K-Laser, why it helps relieve pain and how the treatment works. Dr. Eric Winder will discuss case examples and hold a Q&A session following the presentation. Attendees are invited to arrive at 6:45 p.m. for refreshments, and the program itself will take place from 7–8 p.m.
This free event is located at 3131 S Tamiami Trail, #102, Sarasota. To RSVP, call 941-957-8390. Dr. Eric Winder has 21 years in practice, and focuses on relieving pain and restoring alignment and motion through fascia release therapies without forceful manipulation. For more information, visit GentleBay.com.