These studies sited below are Low Level Laser references because thats what 99% of therapeutic laser research has been performed on for the last 4 decades – This includes over 3,000 peer reviewed published studies. For information on the difference between Low Level, LED and Class 4 lasers, click here.
The Scientific Process
A word about the scientific process first: It is never a good idea to draw a definitive conclusion from one or two studies. This is especially true if you see something in the news media. Sensationalism sales and individuals have biases. We’re only human. It is too easy to cherry pick results that match a particular bias. A single study might be interesting and point to new understanding if replicated in further studies, but proves nothing by itself. A scientific consensus is necessary from dozens, if not hundreds, of studies to draw solid conclusions. Just thought you should know that!
How low level laser actually effect the body:
When the body can’t heal it is dominantly because the cells don’t have enough energy to marshall a healing response or re-establish normal function. Universally, the mitochondria of the cell are responsible for producing fuel for all working functions in the form of ATP. Just like your car, without enough fuel, your cells can’t do anything or go anywhere. The key laser benefit is to stimulate ATP production in mitochondria to kick start your cell’s engine.
Mitochonria and Increased
Cell Energy and Function
Mitochondra are thought to be the principal photoreceptors and increase ATP (cell energy).
-Hashmi, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2010
Low level laser therapy (LLLT) uses light energy to stimulate ATP in the mitochondria to elicit biological responses in the body. The increased cellular energy and changes in the cell membrane result in pain relief, wound healing, muscle relaxation, immune system modulation and nerve regeneration.
-Ross, General Dentistry, 2008
Low Level Laser Therapy promotes proliferation of muliple cells through red and near infrared light mainly through the activation of mitochondrial function and cell signaling.
-Gao, Journal of Biomedical Science, 2009
Laser therapy showed:
- Increase in Mitochondrial ATP production
- Increase in regeneration genes and motor proteins
- Increase in RNA/DNA synthesis
- Increase in angiogenesis (Blood vessel growth for increase circulation).
- Decrease in inflammation
Photomedicine Laser Surgery- June 2006
Laser stimulation to cells showed increased mitochondrial metabolism, increased enzyme production and increased cell oxygenation.
Journal Photochemistry and photobiology, November 2006
Cell Repair and Tissue Regeneration
This is one of the most exciting benefits of Low Level Laser:
The use of lasers to promote wound healing, deeper tissues and nerves has been shown for over 40 years. With increased ATP (cell energy) production and induction of transcription factors leading to cell proliferation (regeneration).
-Farivar, Journal of Medical Laser Therapy 2014
Low-level laser irradiation improves functional recovery and nerve regeneration in sciatic nerve crush rat injury model.
-Wang, Public Library of Science 2014
Low level laser with low-energy density range appears to exert a biostimulatory effect on bone tissue, enhance osteoblastic (bone producing cells) proliferation and differentiation on cell lines used in in vitro studies.
-Amid, J Lasers Med Sci. 2014
The main effects of LLLT were a reduction in the inflammatory process, the modulation of growth factors(=repair mechanisms) and myogenic (muscles) regulatory factors , and increased angiogenesis (=regeneration of muscle tissue and arteries). The findings suggest that LLLT is an excellent therapeutic resource for the treatment of skeletal muscle injuries in the short-term.
-Alves, American Journal of Medical Rehabilitation 2014
Our results indicate that the pulsed LLLT improved the remodeling during the healing process in ruptured tendons in rats through activation of enzymes and stimulation of collagen synthesis.
-Guerra, Lasers in Medical Science, 2013
These findings warrant the conclusion that laser phototherapy effectively relieves pain of various etiologies (body sources); making it a valuable addition to contemporary pain management armamentarium.
-Fulop, Meta-analysis of Laser Phototherapy on Pain Relief, 2010
A systematic review and meta-analysis from 16 studies on LLLT and neck pain showed an immediate decrease in pain for acute neck pain, and a 22 week reduction of pain for chronic neck pain.
-Chow, Lancet 2009
Low Back Pain and Disc Injuries
50 patients with medically confirmed disc injuries with failed medication trials and physical therapy treatment were followed after they received 36 laser sessions over 12 week period. At the average disability rating went from 50% to 10%. Follow up study in the same group at 1 year and 5 year mark showed the improvement was maintained. Only one of the 50 participants required surgery.
-Ip, Journal of Pain Research, 2015
Our study demonstrated that the use of laser in association with exercise therapy, appears to be effective for chronic low back pain. Such treatment might be considered a valid therapeutic option within rehabilitation for nonspecific chronic low back pain.
-Vallone, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, 2014
Brain Function, Trauma and Neurodegenerative disease
This surprising and fascinating area of laser therapy is just emerging and generally not FDA cleared for treatment, but the emerging research shows some promising results.
Discovering that transcranial infra-red laser stimulation produces beneficial effects on the frontal cortex function such as sustain memory, working memory, and affective state (=emotions) has been groundbreaking. Although still in the research stage, LLLT is a highly promising, affordable, non-pharmacological alternative for improving cognitive function.
-Gonzalez-Lima and Barrett, Frontiers Systems Neuroscience, 2014
In discussing LLLT application to an in depth review of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), strokes, Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Parkinson Disease (PD) in and article titled “Role of low-level laser therapy in Neurorehabilitation”, the author concludes his article with “…the particular benefits of laser therapy to both the central and peripheral nervous system suggests that a much wider use of laser could or should be made in both brain disease and injury.
-Hashmi, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2011
“We explored the neuroprotective effect of LLLT on mice with delivered Alzheimer’s Disease with a substantial developed pathology stage…treatment results were associated with reduction and even a reversing of both amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles…suggestingthat near-infrared laser may have potential as an effective minimally invasive intervention for Alzheimer’s Disease.”
-Purushothuman, Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, 2014
30 patients with heel pain of 9 months or longer with an average pain level of 7/10 received LLLT treatment and at the 12 month follow up the average pain level for the group w 1/10.
-Jastifer, Foot and Ankle International, 2014
69 subjects with heel pain in a placebo-controlled, randomized, double blind were enrolled in this study on the effectiveness of LLLT for plantar fasciitis. At the follow up 1 year after treatment, the treated group had an average improvement of 60% pain level compared to the control group (=non-treated comparison group) which reported and average improvement of 5.6% in pain.
-Macias, Foot and Ankle Surgery, 2015
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Laser therapy as a new conservative treatment is effective in treating CTS paresthesia and numbness and improves the subjects’ power of hand grip and electrophysiological parameters.
-Shooshtari, Electromyography Clinical Neurophysiology, 2008
100 patients elderly candidates for bilateral knee replacement were divided into 2 two groups, one receiving physical therapy and the other physical therapy plus laser therapy. At the 6 year follow up, 9 of the physical therapy only participants received knee replacements, where as only one of the physical therapy plus laser group received a replacement.
-Ip, Lasers in Medical Science, 2015
LLLT promoted satisfactory results in reducing the pain intensity, number of tender points, joint sounds and improvements in the range of jaw motion. Hence it is an effective treatment method for TMDs (temporomandibular disorders).
-Sayed, Journal Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery, 2014
Inflammation of the synovial membrane plays an important role in the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis (OA). Our results showed LLLT was more effective at 50 mw compared to higher 100mw in modulating (=controlling and balancing out) inflammatory mediators (cytokines) and inflammatory immune cells (macrophages and neutrophils).
-Alves, Arthritis Research and Therapy, 2013
In a randomized, double blind crossover study, muscular fatique was measured in terms of recovery time after maximum repetition in lifting weights. The laser group showed significantly shorter recovery time, regaining strength faster after muscle failure in weight lifting.
-de Brito Vieira, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, 2014
Laser Therapy doubles the rate of muscle regeneration
Photomedicine Laser Surgery 2006, 24(2)
Mast cells from the immune system form part the repair response in tissue damage. In this study, the lasered group showed increased quantity of mast cells response in damaged achilles tendon of lab mice.
-Pinfildi, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, 2014
1047 patients with neuropathies, 75% of whom were diabetic, were treated with Laser Therapy, 71% improvement.
Journal of American Podiatric Medicine Association- March 2005
Wound Healing- Venous Leg Ulcers
- 9 Patients with 12 Ulcer Lesions
- 10 week Laser Treatment
- 84.7% Healed ulcers in treated group
- 24.7% in control group (non-treated) healed ulcer
Dermatology Surgery- 1998:24