Laser Treatments for Pain and Inflammation


Who would have thought we’d be using lasers to treat musculoskeletal conditions? At our office we are lucky to have low level laser therapy. This is exactly how it sounds–a laser that you use therapeutically. It’s used to treat pain and inflammation from arthritis, strains, and sprains.Laser therapy works by emitting a concentrated light (laser) to the area of complaint. The light is absorbed and pushed into deeper tissues.

Your body has the inherent ability to heal itself. That is why when you get a scrape or cut it eventually scabs over and heals regardless of what you do to it. Laser therapy helps speed up this process.

While scientists can’t explain the therapeutic effects of laser entirely, what we do know is that the light from the laser stimulates different kinds of cells in our bodies: Immune cells come to the area to help clean up tissue damage, and connective tissue cells begin to migrate to the area and multiply in order to repair tissue. This is all accomplished because the laser, which is very concentrated light, “donates energy” to the cell, and the cell can then do its job faster and more efficiently (2).

Laser has been shown to be effective for the management of pain and inflammation in chronic joint disorders and acute injuries (3, 4, 5). In our office we have seen success most notably with ankle and wrist sprains, rotator cuff injuries, disc tears and herniations. This modality is safe, non-invasive, and non-painful. Side effects are limited to increased soreness in the area that was treated, but does not linger for long.


1. Chen, et al. (2011) Low-Level Laser Therapy Activates NF-kB via Generation of Reactive Oxygen Species in Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts. PLoS. 6(7): e22453.

2. Chung H, et al. (2012) The Nuts and Bolts of Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy. Ann Biomed Eng. 40(2): 516-533.

3. Chow RT, Johnson MI, Lopes-Martins R, Bjordal JM. (2009) Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials. Lancet. 374 (9705): 1897-1908.

4. Bjordal JM, Johnson MI, Iverson V, Aimbire F, Lopes-Martins R. (2006) Low-Level Laser Therapy in Acute Pain: A Systematic Review of Possible Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Effects in Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trials. Photomed Laser Surg. 24(2): 158-168.

5. Bjordal JM, Couppe C, Chow RT, Tuner J, Ljunggren EA. (2003) A systematic review of low-level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. Aus J Physiotherapy. 49: 107-116.

Whaddya think?