September 6, 2018

Laser Therapy: A Conservative and Effective Approach to Shoulder Pain

By Dr. Ward Wagner


You don’t realize how much you raise your arms throughout the course of your day until it hurts to do so. Oftentimes. what begins as a “catch” or soreness in the shoulder progresses into severe pain and dysfunction. Getting dressed or groomed in the morning becomes an Olympic event, and you find yourself avoiding day-to-day activities that were once simple.

One of the most common causes of shoulder pain and dysfunction is rotator cuff injury. Many people have heard the term “rotator cuff” but are not sure what it is or does. The rotator cuff is a system of four separate muscles which, when working together, keep the shoulder “ball” centered within the “socket” as you move your arm. When there is a weakness, overuse, or injury to one or more of those muscles, you will have difficulty and pain when trying to lift your arm.

The most frequent injury to the cuff is called “impingement” and occurs when the rotator cuff tendon is compressed or “impinged” between the bones in your shoulder joint. Inflammation, pain, and dysfunction are the result. If left untreated, it can turn into a tear which can require surgery to repair.

The good news is that there are conservative options which can help heal and repair the damage done, thus avoiding surgery. When coupled with gentle exercises to help strengthen the rotator cuff, the problem can go away for good.

One of the little known modalities which has proven to have great results in accelerating the healing process with rotator cuff impingement and injury is laser therapy. Laser therapy works by a process called photobiomodulation—a complex term used to describe a fairly simple and very safe process.

Light energy from the laser goes into the damaged tissues and affects change on a cellular level by increasing blood flow and metabolic activity (cell turnover) to rid the area of exudates (toxins), stimulating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production and enhancing cell membrane permeability. In simpler terms, the laser speeds up the body’s natural healing process.


Many have found success with the combination of laser therapy, massage, and gentle exercises. They have been able to return to their lifestyles, whether that means cooking a meal, reaching the top shelf, or swinging a golf club.  


If you or someone you know is suffering from shoulder pain and would like more information on laser therapy or other conservative treatment options, please contact my office at 435-673-1443.

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