Laser therapy, also called low-level laser therapy (LLLT) or laser therapy at reception, uses visible light radiation to produce a photochemical reaction in the body’s cells. LLLT does not emit heat and this is why people call it cold laser therapy. The stated goal of therapy is to reduce pain, speed up the healing process and fight inflammation.
How Much Does Cold Laser Therapy Cost?
FDA has approved many types of lasers and their costs will vary from one type to another. Also, the purpose of the therapy will influence the price. The average cost of cold laser therapy will start at around $35 and will go up to more than $160. When talking about the period of treatment for different body pains, this will depend on the size of the area that is treated. For instance, chronic problems are treated better when the sessions are repeated every two to three weeks, while acute conditions may be treated every day. It will take around 10 minutes for each course of treatment.
According to the Spine-health website, 8 to 30 treatment sessions may be necessary, depending on the duration and severity of the condition. Taking into consideration that the cost of one session is anywhere between $35 and more than $160, you will have to spend anywhere between $280 and more than $4,800 to notice some improvements. Obviously, the costs may be even higher if you continue the treatment sessions.
Most insurance companies, like Aetna, consider that this procedure is experimental and has improper effectiveness evidence. So, the costs of cold laser therapy are rarely covered by health insurance companies. For example, Medicaid and Medicare will not cover the costs of this type of treatment.
Factors that affect the cost
- Geographical location
- The medical problem to be addressed by the therapy
- The laser therapy clinic
- Specific treatment required
- Power and wavelength required for the treatment
Cold laser therapy overview
During an LLLT session, a doctor will align the laser transmitter device over the painful area. The low-level laser will then penetrate your skin without causing pain or damage. Your cells will absorb light energy and convert it into cellular energy, suppressing pain and reducing inflammatory pathways. The entire procedure may only take a few minutes, but you may need to return for recovery treatments several times a week for a month or more.
Patients usually begin to feel better after 1 or 2 treatments, although 5 or more sessions are recommended to resolve the issue. The more chronic and extensive the wounds, the more treatments are usually needed.
What are the additional costs?
First of all, you will have to consult with a medical professional before you can even consider this procedure. He or she will be able to tell you if you are eligible for this type of treatment. Depending on who you choose, you might have to pay for this consultation.
In general, laser therapy has better results when combined with other forms of therapy such as electrotherapy, physical therapy, soft tissue mobilization, chiropractor, and/or massage. You should be prepared to pay for these therapies as well.
Important things to consider
The short-term effects are to reduce the intensity of pain by stimulating the production and release of beta-endorphins and improving local blood flow, manifested by increased local temperature. The short-term effect is significant in 5-10% of cases, during or after the end of the initial treatment session, but it is not as important as the long-term effect.
Long-term or cumulative effects are an increase in cellular energy by stimulating the synthesis of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and improving cellular metabolism, and faster healing of damaged tissues due to increased production of proteins and DNA.
Conditions treated with cold laser therapy
- Plantar fasciitis (pain in the heel)
- Muscle stretches/ruptures, sprains, segmental overloads
- Sinusitis and allergic rhinitis
- Varicose ulcer
- First and second-degree burns
- Acne, skin diseases, eczema
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Pain in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine (spondylosis, low back pain, kyphosis, scoliosis, lordosis, herniated disc)
- Joint pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Fibromyalgia (characterized by diffuse pain and tenderness in muscles and soft tissue)
- Tendonitis, epicondylitis
What to ask?
- How long would the results of laser therapy last?
- How do I know if laser therapy is right for me?
- Does medical insurance cover the costs of this procedure?
- How long will this treatment take? And how many sessions do I need to complete to have results?
- Should I prepare somehow for the therapy?
Laser therapy should not be performed on patients with malignant conditions, pacemaker wearers, spinal stimulator wearers, or pregnant women.
How can I save money?
Make sure you ask your health insurance provider if they cover the costs of cold laser therapy. Even though, in general, these costs are not covered, there are some health insurance companies that may support a part of the expenses.
As you will need more than one session, most of the clinics will offer bulk discounts if you purchase more sessions at once.