Laser Therapy Eases Away Pain

Dr. Jeremy Alosa
Owner and doctor of chiropractic at Arthritis Laser Treatment Center

Where did you receive your schooling and training?

I got my bachelor’s degree in exercise science from the University of Massachusetts, then I went to chiropractic school at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic.

How long have you been practicing?

I practiced on the Mainland for a couple of years and I’ve been practicing in Hawaii since 2004. In my practice I cater to patients with arthritis pain using chiropractic adjustments, spinal decompression and infrared laser therapy.

Dr. Jeremy Alosa

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Dr. Jeremy Alosa performs laser treatment on a patient. Nathalie Walker photos nwalker@midweek.com

What is laser therapy?

Laser is used in a lot of different industries, such as LASIK eye surgery. That’s when we really started to hear about lasers being used in health care. The laser I use is a Class 4 infrared laser. Class 1 lasers would be a bar code scanner you see at the grocery store. Then they go up in class as they go up in power. At the top of the list would be surgical lasers. Class 4 has 10 watts of power, compared to a Class 3 that has anywhere from 5 milliwatts to 500 milliwatts of power. Class 4 is more powerful, and the importance of that is that it can drive photons of light deeper into the tissue to get structures that are deep in the body that the lower class lasers can’t get to. Or they could, but it would take a lot longer and a longer treatment plan to do it. With this laser, we can get the spine, the low back, the neck, the knees and hips.

A lot of times it’s not very easy to pinpoint the exact area pain is coming from. This laser, because it’s higher powered, can treat a broader area in a faster time. So you don’t have that issue of making sure you’re hitting the exact area. As far as I know, I’m the only doctor using a Class 4 laser in Honolulu.

How does the laser help the body heal?

The word laser is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. It’s important to know that the radiation is non-ionizing. Unlike the dangerous radiation you get with gamma- or X-rays, infrared light is safe. It is just light, and the healing property in the laser is the photons that are in the light. The laser I use has a dual wavelength of 808 nanometers and 980 nanometers. These wavelengths are best for light to penetrate into the body. The process is known as photobiostimulation. The photons stimulate the body to heal on the cellular level. One of the many things that happen is ATP (adeno-sine triphosphate) production is increased, allowing cells to take up nutrients and get rid of waste byproducts faster. It also activates fibroblasts, chondrocytes, osteocytes and other tissue repair cells, that allows faster healing rates. Laser light also reduces inflammation by inhibiting the synthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins and by contrast stimulates prostaglandins that have a vasodilating (dilate blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure) and anti-inflammatory action. Pain levels also are reduced by causing an increase in beta endorphin and nitric oxide release, decreased bradykinin levels, ion channel normalization and stabilization of the action potential of nerve cells. Another really important thing my laser can do is reform scar tissue into healthy tissue through a process known as angio-genesis (creates new blood vessel growth). All post-surgical patients should undergo laser therapy because it speeds the recovery rate and improves outcome. In summary, infrared Class 4 laser therapy is scientifically based, safe and effective in treating any musculoskeletal condition. Most of my patients have arthritis and they respond very well. It is very gratifying to have patients come to me in desperation because they have tried every treatment imaginable and I am able to get them better when no one else could.

How is laser associated with chiropractic?

The chiropractic adjustments we give patients stimulate the body to heal itself. Laser is just a different method of doing that. With chiropractic, you’re using your hands and adjusting the patient’s spine. Because everything in the body is controlled by the nervous system and your spine surrounds the central nervous system, you can influence different things by just adjusting the spine. Laser works similarly. It’s just you’re using laser light to stimulate the body to heal. Plus my laser works great for patients who don’t have strong enough bones to handle a chiropractic adjustment.

How long does treatment typically take?

The larger the treatment area, the longer the treatment time. The hip and back take about 15 minutes and a wrist or ankle takes about eight minutes.

What philosophy drives your practice?

My goal with all my patients is to get them better using non-invasive and safe treatments before they do the more radical and dangerous types of procedures like surgery or injections, especially when treating arthritis. The norm is patients go to the medical doctor and they have three treatment options: drugs (over the counter or prescription), injections (cortisone or epidurals) or surgery. None of those options are meant to fix the problem, and they present dangerous side effects. My goal is to get patients better so they don’t have to go through that. It makes sense for them to try the laser first because there’s no chance of them getting worse with my type of treatment and the relief they get is long term not temporary.

Arthritis is a widespread problem. Sixty percent of people over 65 have arthritis. It’s the No. 1 cause of chronic pain and disability in the U.S. It accounts for 17 percent of all chronic pain and disability in the country. Compare that to the leading cause of death, which is heart disease, and that accounts for 11 percent of all disability. Until this laser was cleared by the FDA in 2003, there weren’t many effective options to treat arthritis. Now, the Class 4 infrared laser has revolutionized the treatment of arthritis pain and numbness.