The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Laser Show: Using Lasers To Treat Feet

Posted by on Thursday, April 26th, 2012

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[Setting: The Dark Ages. So it’s dark. A patient staggers into the shop of Ye Olde Podiatrist/Baker/Barrel Maker.]

Patient: O honored Doctor of the Foot! My foot aches like I have walked 500 miles on it without shoes, on muddy, bumpy, rock strewn roads. Actually, that’s what I did yesterday, since my mule is in the shop. Can you help the burning, aching pain in my foot?

Doctor: Yes, I can help. I will use a new treatment. I will treat you with a beam of light!

Patient: A beam of light? What will that do?

Doctor: I will take this glass, hold it up to your foot in front of the sun, until the glass emits a sharp, focused beam of light. Or something like that. I’m still working on it.

Patient: Then what will happen?

Doctor: The light will pierce the painful area!

Patient: Will that make the pain go away?

Doctor: Yes. Or it will set your foot on fire. If that happens, no charge, and I’ll throw in a free barrel.

Patient: Uhhh…I think I will perhaps just go home and put my feet up for a bit.

Luckily, podiatry has come a long, long way. Now if a podiatrist says your foot problem can be treated with a beam of light, that beam of light is a laser, a now well-established method of treating injuries and performing surgery. That sounds a lot better than a magnifying glass and the sun! Let’s find out more–

So what are lasers? “Laser” is actually an acronym that stands for “Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” As you may guess from that name, lasers are basically intensely focused beams of light. They can be high intensity or low intensity, depending on the need (learn the full story of how lasers work here). Since lasers were developed in the later 1950s, they have become commonplace, used in printers, major surgery, minor hair removal, cool light shows, and annoying little pointers that can amuse your cat.

How can lasers help my feet? Lasers can help  your feet in many ways! Podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) can use lasers in a number of ways. First, as we noted, lasers can make surgery a lot easier. The highly focused beams of light can cut into an area with a precision unmatched by any other instrument. Additionally, they seal and sterilize blood vessels at the point of entry, so there is less danger of excess bleeding or infection. Here are some foot conditions lasers can treat:

  • Fungal infections – lasers can attack and destroy the fungus that is causing the infection.
  • Ingrown toenails – lasers can cut away the part of the nail that is growing down into the nail bed.
  • Neuromas – lasers can cut out the thickened tissue that has formed and is causing nerve pain.

Cold laser therapy, or low level laser therapy, is another use of lasers, typically for the treatment of chronic pain or to promote healing. With this type of therapy, a very low intensity laser (as you may have guessed from the name) is aimed at the painful area. The idea is to bombard the area with photons that are absorbed by the cells, which then go into a healing mode. The treatment may also increase blood flow to the area, which can stimulate healing. Cold therapy can be used for such foot problems as ligament strains, Achilles tendinitis, heel spurs, and plantar fasciitis (read one runner’s story about how laser treatment helped her plantar fasciitis and this patient’s warning about what not to wear for laser treatments!).

See? There are lots of great ways that lasers can help your feet. If you have chronic foot pain or a foot injury, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.