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Patients to Dr. Lynelle McSweeney’s holistic chiropractic office here in Reno may have been treated with cold laser therapy, among other techniques. This form of low-intensity laser therapy stimulates healing with low levels of light, and it has a number of uses for both medical and cosmetic procedures—everything from pain management to fat loss treatments. But how does cold laser therapy actually work? It’s a good question! Here, we’re detailing everything to understand about cold laser therapy (plus where to find it in Reno).


During cold laser therapy, safe, low light outputs and wavelengths are applied directly to a targeted area to stimulate and repair tissues on a cellular level. Traditional lasers use around 300 watts of light, but cold lasers are somewhere between 5 and 500 milliwatts. That means there is no pain or burning sensation. Actually, cold lasers are classified as NHN, non-heating instruments, by the FDA. Instead, you may feel the device itself touching you, but it’s otherwise entirely non-invasive.

When the light is applied to the body, it’s absorbed by the body’s tissues. The red and near-infrared light trigger a physiological reaction in the cells that promotes regeneration. One of the most exciting parts of cold laser therapy is that it can stimulate different cells in the body, including muscle, nerves, cartilage, ligaments, and fat, making it a very versatile therapy.


Since 1697, over 2,500 studies on the safety and efficacy of cold laser therapy have been conducted, with many concluding that it’s an effective and non-invasive technique for pain relief and other benefits. For that reason, doctors, dentists, chiropractors, physical therapists and other medical professionals use cold laser therapy to treat a variety of conditions.

Some of the most common uses of cold laser therapy include:

  • Pain management: Pain from minor injuries, such as tendonitis, pulled ligaments, muscle sprains and strains, etc., can be mitigated, while also promoting faster healing times. It’s also effective for reducing swelling and healing joint and soft tissue conditions.
  • Chronic pain: For Dr. McSweeney’s patients navigating chronic neck and back pain, as well as pain in the shoulders, knees, and elbows, cold laser therapy can offer much needed relief. It’s also a treatment for conditions like fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Inflammation and autoimmune disorders: Cold laser treatments can help address pain and repair cells to help reduce inflammation in certain autoimmune disorders. While these diseases have varying symptoms and conditions, pain and inflammation is often common, and cold laser therapy can be effective.
  • Skin conditions: The body’s largest organ benefits from cold laser therapy too. This form of treatment can help soothe skin issues like rashes, psoriasis and eczema. It can also help treat dermatitis and acne, relieve edema and swelling, and speed healing times. In fact, it’s often used to promote skin rejuvenation.
  • Fat loss: Cold laser therapy was originally used in conjunction with liposuction surgery, before researchers discovered how effective the therapy was by itself. For fat loss, cold lasers are applied to areas of excessive fat in the body to open tiny pores in the cells. That allows them to drain and shrink in size, which preserves these cells for healthy bodily functions.


The FDA has approved cold laser therapy for a number of conditions, and it’s considered safe when it’s performed under the care of a qualified practitioner. It’s noninvasive and painless, with no down time or preparation required. Since treatments are so quick—usually only lasting a few minutes—it can take some time to see results, which may be a drawback for some people.


Research is ongoing, but there is plenty of evidence about the efficacy of cold laser therapy. In Reno, it’s a form of therapy Dr. McSweeney and Dr. Allen use on patients every day. If you’re interested in learning more about cold laser therapy and whether you might be a candidate, contact the office today or schedule a visit.