New Information About Cold Laser You Can Use

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Did you know that cold laser, also known as low level laser, has been around for years now, but it’s use is just starting to gain popularity?

It is not really cold though. They called it cold laser to take the danger out of the name. When we think of lasers, we commonly think of burning or cutting lasers. Cold laser isn’t anything like that. In fact, you don’t even really feel it at all. That is, outside of the benefits!

The good side of cold laser

Here is a list of just some of the conditions cold laser is commonly used for:

  • Athletic Injuries
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Knee and Foot Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and most other neurological pains
  • Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Muscle Spasm (degenerative joint conditions)
  • TMJ Disorders
  • Relief of Muscle (strains or tears) and Joint Pain, including knees, hands, and ankles
  • Soft Tissue Injuries, Including Sprains and Strains, Tendonitis and Hematomas, Rotator cuff, Tennis Elbow
  • Joint Disorders and Conditions, Including Arthritis, and Tenosynovitis
  • Chronic pain, including Trigeminal Neuralgia and Chronic Neck and Back pain
  • Other Musculoskeletal Injuries
  • Chronic non-healing wounds
  • Pre and post surgical treatment
  • Anti-inflammation applications
  • Disc herniations

The bad side of cold laser is that it is not covered under insurance plans, as they still classify cold laser as “experimental and investigational.” The vast majority of papers out there in the research world are in favor and in support of cold laser. You have to understand that. One must also understand that, these days it seems, insurance plans aren’t in any hurry to add more stuff to pay for. Wouldn’t you agree?

In 1967 a few years after the first working laser was invented, Endre Mester in Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary experimented with the effects of lasers on skin cancer. In his experiments, he was treating the backs of mice with different lasers. In doing so, he noticed that the shaved hair grew back more quickly on the treated group than the untreated group.

I can promise you that Mest had no idea where his research would lead in the 50 years that would follow his findings.

Here is a paper from 2014 published in the International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery called “Does low-level laser therapy decrease swelling and pain resulting from orthognathic surgery?”

These researchers were looking for ways to help people to treat swelling and inflammation following facial surgery.

How They Did It

  • 10 patients had surgery on both sides of their faces.
  • The patients had cold laser treatment on one side of their face while they had a fake treatment on the other side of the face.
  • The two sides were compared to see if it worked.

What They Found

  • On the side treated with cold laser, swelling decreased significantly on day three, day seven, day fifteen, and day thirty.
  • Self-reported pain was reduced on the treatment side at the one-day mark and at the three-day mark. The pain was gone on both sides by day 7.

Wrap It Up

The authors of this paper concluded, “This LLLT protocol can improve the tissue response and reduce the pain and swelling resulting from orthognathic surgery.”

That’s wonderful news. While it doesn’t have a lot to do with conditions that chiropractors normally treat, we chiropractors DO see plenty of swelling, pain, and inflammation in joints, in the back, and neck. It shows that cold laser does certainly have some use.

Another paper in a very prestigious journal called The Lancet over in England said, “We show that LLLT reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain.”

And then there’s this paper from 2003 we will cover quickly. It’s called “Efficacy of low power laser therapy and exercise on pain and functions in chronic low back pain” and written by A. Gur, et. al.. It was published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine(Gur A 2003).

The researchers decide that, “Low power laser therapy seemed to be an effective method in reducing pain and functional disability in the therapy of chronic LBP.”

That’s pretty cool, people!! Yet, insurance companies refuse to cover it. Do you smell something fishy here? We certainly do.

I don’t know how to make insurance companies cover something they don’t want to cover. However, I can tell you that their choice to make it an uncovered service does not mean it is not effective. On the contrary. I hope we have demonstrated that you should indeed seek treatment with cold laser.

If you have any questions regarding cold laser or musculoskeletal complaints in general, give us a call at 806-355-3000 and let us schedule you for a free consultation with our staff.

Best of health,

Jeff Williams, DC


Gur A (2003). “Efficacy of low power laser therapy and exercise on pain and functions in chronic low back pain.” Lasers Surg Med 32(3): 233-238.