Laser Acupuncture (cold laser applied to acupuncture points) has been shown to cause an almost identical physiological response, and brain stimulation pattern (through fMRI), as regular needle acupuncture - without any sensation.
There are currently two basic ways laser therapy is used: bathing soft tissue with the light to stimulate therapeutic responses; and stimulating acupuncture points with the laser light to promote therapeutic responses.
For soft tissue injuries like tendonitis, sprains, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc., the light is applied to the afflicted area. As the light interacts with the tissue, the cells respond to the therapeutic energy by releasing metabolic waste and absorbing nutrients more easily. Blood vessels open up and blood flow is increased to the area which further drains the injury, supplies nutrients, and promotes healing. Typically the inflammation subsides, pain is relieved, and healing is allowed to happen much more quickly, often twice as fast as normal.
Acupuncture is a form of medicine that has been developed and used in Asia for several thousand years, and though few American doctors understand how it works, it is still a basic mode of medicine in many countries that is becoming ever more prominent in American clinics. Acupuncture is defined as the insertion of needles through the skin at acupuncture points (also called "acu-points"). Laser application to an acu-point is not a "puncture' as with a needle. However, the term "Laser-Acupuncture" is being used to describe this acu-point application in the field of laser therapy. A therapeutic low level laser in the hands of a doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine becomes a powerful healing tool.
Now that lasers can be used instead of needles, laser acupuncture is becoming even more appealing to a growing number of people.
It's been found that the lasers are not only painless but also have a more pronounced effect on the patient with fewer treatments than with needle acupuncture. The high cost of the laser equipment, and the fact that it takes slightly longer for the practitioner to administer the treatment are some of the reasons why more acupuncturists haven't yet switched to lasers. Another reason may be that the standard master's degree level training the average acupuncturist gets does not include education in laser-acupuncture or laser therapy. Dr. McCormick has completed over 1,000 hours of training in low level laser therapy and "laser-acupuncture in the U.S, Europe and China.