Explaining the differences between LLLT and other therapies can get lengthy, so we will do our best in this post to highlight some of these differences. Let's look at ultrasound treatment as way to heal damaged tissue following a musculoskeletal injury:
The effect of ultrasound is via an increase in local blood flow to help reduce local swelling and chronic inflammation. Ultrasound waves are generated by a piezoelectric effect caused by the vibration of crystals within the head of the probe. The ultrasound waves that pass through the skin cause a vibration of the local soft tissues and a deep heating locally, although usually no sensation of heat will be felt by the patient. Ultrasound is more expensive than LED. LED can be a wearable device.
LEDs use a very different effect: no local heat - no vibration of the local soft tissues - light is absorbed and causes a chemical change in specific molecules in our cells known as photo-acceptors. The effect is through Photobiomodulation to promote tissue regeneration, reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Cytochrome c oxidase (Cox) - a terminal enzyme of the electron transport chain in the mitochondria is the primary photo-acceptor for the red-NIR range in mammalian cells because absorption spectra obtained for Cox in different oxidation states was found to be very similar to the action spectra for biological responses to light. Basically, the absorption of photons by Cox leads to electronically excited states, and consequently to quickening of electron transfer reactions. More electron transport necessarily causes increased production of ATP, increasing activity of the Na+/H+ and Ca2+/Na+ antiporters and diverse biological cascades involving nitric oxide, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and gene transcription and protein expression.
Ultrasound may be hard to use in some body parts and has various contra-indications (whereas LED has none): (DVT or thrombophlebitis, Hemorrhagic conditions, Pregnancy, Eyes, anterior neck, carotid sinus, head, reproductive organs, Impaired cognition or communication, Regenerating nerves, Cardiac failure (local), Damaged or at-risk skin (local), Infection or tuberculosis (local), Malignancy (local), Recently radiated tissue (local), Electronic device (local), Impaired sensation (local).
As for PEMF, according to the literature cell membrane receptors have been identified as the site of action of PEMF and provide a mechanistic rationale for clinical use.
Some key processes in cell responses to PEMF include:
(1) signal transduction through A2A and A3 adenosine cell membrane receptors and
(2) dose-response effects on the synthesis of structural and signaling extracellular matrix (ECM) components.
Through these actions, PEMF can increase the structural integrity of bone and cartilage ECM, enhancing repair, and alter the homeostatic balance of signaling cytokines, producing anti-inflammatory effects. PEMFs exert a proanabolic effect on the bone and cartilage matrix and a chondroprotective effect counteracting the catabolic effects of inflammation in the joint environment.
The mechanisms are very different from LLLT.
Contraindications for PEMF are: tuberculosis, pregnancy, malignancy, cardiac pacemaker or any implanted electrical device, atrophic skin or scar tissue on the knee region, bleeding disorders, insensitivity, edema and ischemia.
Also they tend to be very expensive and in general require a trained professional to run the intervention.
Red Recover is unique, as it is the only wearable light therapy device that delivers 2500 milliwatt (mW) of irradiance with our proprietary combination of tri-light energy featuring one red and two different near infrared wavelengths.
Irradiance is very important as it translates into a higher dosage delivered at a shorter period of time, for maximum effect.
Each of the wavelengths in RedRecover devices have a specific purpose and effect, so having three different wavelength is definitely another advantage of RedRecover over the competition.
670 focuses more superficial receptors, accelerates wound healing and increases cellular regeneration - it directly activates deoxyhemoglobin (Hb).
830 targets mitochondria ATP production with direct effects on cellular metabolism (apart for all the intracellular cascades it sets in motion) - this wavelength also has a very direct impact upon NO and Oxyhemoglobin.
950 focuses on blood circulation, recovery and delivery of O2 to tissues. It has a direct impact on water molecules which form ultra-thin layers and surround all living cells.
The combination of all these different wavelengths at a very high delivery is what makes Red Recover unique and effective.
In conclusion, Low Level Light Therapy is very flexible and can be used not only in all phases of recovery after surgery to stimulate healing, relieve pain and inflammation, but also as a preventive measure or to promote health, to generate more energy, induce faster recovery and optimal performance.
Massage therapy needs a professional to be effective (massage home units are not).
Most modalities are more expensive than LLLT.
LLLT can be used as a wearable device, such as Red Recover pads.
These modalities may be hard to use in some body parts and may have various contra-indications, whereas LED has none.