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Shining a Light on the Opioid Epidemic

MLS Laser Therapy is the newest in non-invasive pain treatment

Published: April 2, 2018, 6:00am
4 Photos
Dr. Peter Phillips administers laser treatment.
Dr. Peter Phillips administers laser treatment. The MLS Therapy Laser is the most advanced model on the market. Photo Gallery

It’s a late night talk show joke about doctors: take two pills and call me in the morning. When two pills become four, then six, then eight, it’s no longer a laughing matter.

“It’s on the cover of Time magazine, it’s all over the news,” Dr. Peter Phillips of Phillips Chiropractic and Wellness Clinic said. “Even the President is talking about it. As a society, when we’re in pain, we’ve become geared to look for an answer in a bottle.”

The quick fix a pill provides, in addition to an aging population that experiences more aches and pains than it once did, led to a rise in opioid use. When generic opioids hit the market, and the price began to drop, the prescriptions began to rise.

“When they started getting lower in price, there was more use and abuse,” Phillips said. “More and more people in our country, 64 percent, will experience a major episode of lower back pain in their lifetime. And they deal with that pain with opioids.”

Opioids are controlled substances that help alleviate pain. Legal opioids, such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and codeine, are available by prescription. Heroin is also considered an opioid.

“Taking a pill for the pain isn’t always the answer,” Phillips added. “The American Medical Association is taking the stance that there is an over use problem, that there are other ways to alleviate pain.”

Phillips is a long-time believer in non-invasive practices for pain relief. A chiropractor for 30 years, he has seen many technological advances in his field and can suggest several different ways to treat pains, strains, and inflammation.

“Chiropractic treatments are gentle and effective and do not use drugs or surgery,” Phillips said. “Decompression therapy is non-invasive. Exercising, stretching, and diet modification are all things that can help alleviate pain.”

The latest tool is the MLS (Multi-Wave Locked System) Therapy Laser, a device that was FDA cleared for use nine years ago. The first laser therapy was a breakthrough, giving health care practitioners another way to improve the quality of life for their patients.

“In the past, you would work with other therapies to try to do this,” Phillips said. “We would work with ice therapy or massage therapy. What we’re finding is that through laser therapy, we can have a set treatment protocol that’s shorter, and we are able to get people better faster.

“It’s definitely changed,” Dr. Phillips added. “We’re using class 4 lasers now, and initially there was a class 3 laser. A class 4 allows light to penetrate deeper under the skin, three to five centimeters deep. A class 3 laser penetrated the skin less than a centimeter.”

For the sake of comparison, a class 2 laser is used at grocery store checkout stands.

“It can treat many different conditions,” Dr. Phillips said. “Obviously neck pain and back pain, but it can also treat plantar fasciitis, elbow pain, wrist sprains, and many other sprains and strains. All of those injuries can be treated with this particular form of therapy.”

Tim Kling had injured his shoulder, then compounded the injury a few days later while working. MLS Laser Therapy alleviated the pain and healed the injury, all without the need for drugs or surgery. In fact, Kling barely felt anything at all during the treatment.

“You feel something every once in awhile, right when it hits the spot,” Kling said. “You feel a little bit of sensation that might be described as a slight raise in heat, a little warmth inside. But only when it hits that sweet spot and it’s only temporary. It actually feels good.”

The laser isn’t a cure-all, however, as a broken arm still needs to be put in a cast. MLS Laser therapy is designed to help with neuropathy, the pain or stiffness that comes with nerve pain, and carries an 80- to 90-percent success rate with no known side effects.

“Neuropathy is pain throughout the course of a nerve,” Phillips said. “We see a lot of nerve pain. Sciatica is a neuropathy. Arm pain, pain down the legs, pain that radiates through the neck. As long as that pain is in a nerve, it’s neuropathy.”

When he first introduced laser therapy to his patients, a few were a little wary of the device. Would there be any pain? Would the laser leave a mark? Would it even work?

“I was skeptical, but it’s worked very well,” Brian Cook, another Phillips patient that suffered from lower back pain and plantar fasciitis, said. “I used to get terrible headaches after the old school chiropractor moves. But the laser, after using it three times, it was stunning at how well it worked. And I didn’t get a headache.”

With the ability to penetrate deeper into the tissue, the Class 4 lasers are able to get closer to the problem areas. This means a more localized form of treatment, the ability to reach areas that were unreachable before, and a way to provide faster healing times.

“Light is energy,” Phillips said. “We’re allowing energy to shine in an area where we wouldn’t normally be able to put energy, underneath the skin. In an area where there’s a problem, that laser energy starts the process of healing and recreates that initial healing that should’ve gone on initially after an injury. We use different frequencies of laser light to treat different conditions that a patient might present with.”

Damaged cells don’t function as they normally do, especially as we get older. Laser therapy gives those cells a jump start, so to speak.

“Cells can become stagnant from being swollen, from being traumatized,” Phillips said. “What we’re able to do with laser therapy is allow light to penetrate underneath the skin. The light goes in and excites the cells to start functioning like normal cells again, which alleviates the pain signals getting sent to the nervous system. It also helps us to get the inflammation to decrease within a particular area problem.”

Depending on the nature of the injury, patients will use the treatment a couple of times a week for a few months. However, if the damage is addressed quickly, the time spent under the laser can be lessened.

“Typical treatment protocols are two times a week,” Phillips said. “We’ll do that between four and eight weeks depending on what type of problem we’re dealing with. If it’s a real acute or a new problem, typically we can alleviate their symptoms faster so it takes a lesser amount of treatment. But if it’s something that’s gone on chronically for 10, 15, 20 years, it takes longer to work with them to get them back.”

MLS Laser Therapy is the latest technological advancement during the last three decades used to alleviate pain. The ability to go deeper into the tissue, pinpoint the trouble area, and stimulate the cells give anyone the ability to heal faster.

“I can sleep on my side, reach up and grab for things, reach behind the car seat,” Kling said. “The pain was constant and now it’s gone.”

Dr. Peter Phillips has been a chiropractor for 30 years and uses several non-invasive treatments to treat nerve pain, including MLS Laser Therapy. To set up an appointment, call (360) 694-1118.

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