ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Technology is constantly changing the way we live our lives and a new orthopedic laser center in Rochester is showing just how much of a game-changer it can be.
OrthoLazer Orthopedic Laser Centers opened in Rochester 10 months ago. The space is bringing patients a new way to heal their pain using laser therapy.
Founder Dr. Scott Sigman said the lasers penetrate into the tissue, but do not generate heat energy. Sigman said patients can’t hear, see, or feel anything.
The innovative technology the center uses is called MLS M8 Robot Laser Therapy, which is FDA-cleared. The therapy can treat pain and inflammation for a variety of different issues, like back pain, rotator cuff tears, tennis elbow, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and more.
“We also use it for injuries for patients that have had sprains or fractures, where maybe narcotics would have been prescribed. Instead, you come here, we can reduce your recovery by half, kids are back on the field faster because the acute inflammation is reduced dramatically by this anti-inflammatory laser,” Sigman said.
So how does it therapy work? Experts say the robot gives off specific wavelengths of light to treat pain, the light enters damaged cells and stimulates intracellular activity, reducing pain and speeding recovery time.
“The light energy gets into the cells about five to six centimeters into the tissue and it helps to reduce inflammation. It turns off the inflammatory process, which means for the patient less pain, improved function, without necessarily having pills, injections, and even potentially to prevent surgery as well,” Sigman said.
Gale Parello says she has been using the therapy since June after tearing her tendon and said it has been “a miracle” for her.
“This is about six and a half months of this and honestly it has totally saved my life. It’s kept me out of surgery and, you know, once you hit an injury like this, you’re very prone to it, so I’m so grateful,” Parello said.
Parello said she was looking for a way to treat her pain without needing surgery, something many others are also searching for.
“There’s no guarantee when you have surgery, especially this kind of surgery that has to do with the tendon,” Parello said. “Once they’re torn or ripped or whatever, the expense of it, and then just the recuperation from everything, and even after you go through all that, there’s just really no guarantee that you’re going to get the result you want.”
The laser therapy takes roughly 10 to 15 minutes a treatment, according to Sigman. Depending on ones’ condition, most people need anywhere from 6 to 10 visits. Each treatment costs around $70 and isn’t covered by insurance, though that is something that company is working towards.
Sigman said during the opioid epidemic, OrthoLazer has been a popular alternative for many who don’t want to use pills to help treat pain or recovery from surgery.
“Unfortunately, the operating room sort of became an inadvertent gateway to the opioid crisis, right? You have surgery, you’re in pain, we provide you narcotics. Unfortunately, they’re highly addictive and they create issues,” Sigman said. “I like to say the opioid epidemic is the Forgotten Epidemic in the setting of a worldwide pandemic, but there were 100,000 people that lost their lives to opioid addiction and overdose last year, so it’s really important.”
Sigman also said the therapy can be a helpful choice for many while some hospitals postpone elective surgeries due to COVID spikes or staffing issues.
“What happens is you have patients that are still in pain, their pain and arthritis isn’t going away. So what this is, is a great opportunity for patients to have an alternative treatment for patients that have had surgery that is postponed, that may not be put back on the list indefinitely,” Sigman said. “You can have these treatments, you can still have your surgery down the line if you need it, and for many patients, believe it or not, they come in, they have their treatments, they get pain relief, you can actually postpone surgery indefinitely for a certain percentage of patients as well.”
And as the COVID virus continues to spread, Sigman said they are also looking at using the technology to help with inflammation in those recovering.
“In March of 2020, when we were in the midst of the pandemic, I came up with the idea that, you know, we’re having such great success with our laser for acute inflammation and injury, I wonder if it would work for COVID. And I was able to arrange for a study through my hospital, it was the first in the United States, and we took our laser and and we treated patients with the laser with acute COVID,” Sigman said.
“We were able to show and publish in our paper that the patients that underwent laser treatment compared to the controls actually did exceptionally well, they cleared their chest X-rays, they were able to be discharged from the hospital. So one day, we’re hopeful that this laser technology will be more recognized within the medical world of the United States.”
Rochester’s OrthoLazer center is one of 11 around the country, located at 2210 Monroe Avenue.
The company is currently working on opening 22 other centers, including ones in Saratoga, Buffalo and New York City. You can learn more about them by clicking here.