Low Level Laser Therapy: A Non-Invasive Pain Solution

I remember the first time I saw Luke Skywalker open Anakin’s blue lightsaber in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. How cool would it be to have the power of a lightsaber,

and the ability to use the force?! Well unfortunately the force is not with me, but I do know how to wield a laser.


Lasers are amazing tools. In varying degrees, they have the ability to do so much; from cutting diamonds to measuring the distance between the earth and the moon, but did you also know that lasers are often used in a medical setting? I have found tremendous benefit in utilizing low-level laser therapy to treat pain and sports injuries. Does this sound too good to be true? It's not! It is a low-cost, non-invasive therapy and takes only about 15 minutes in-office1.


The laser works by reducing inflammation and accelerating tissue recovery2. It promotes healing by increasing the amount of local growth factors 2,3 as well as increasing blood flow to the site of pain. This process creates new blood cells and collagen, which assists in wound and general connective tissue healing1–3. That’s almost as good as the force!


Laser therapy is most useful when it is used in combination with other pain management modalities. I have most commonly used it to treat chronic neck pain, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and chronic regional pain syndrome4,5. Not only that, but a recent double blind, randomized research study showed that low-level laser therapy can even effectively reduce nerve pain caused by chemotherapy6


For the most impact, I often use laser therapy in conjunction with myofascial release and acupuncture. This combination is helpful for both new and chronic injuries. If you are interested, book an appointment to see if a laser would be right for you--- And don’t worry, visible light can only slice through flesh in a galaxy far, far away.



















  1.   B Cotler H. The Use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) For Musculoskeletal Pain. MOJ Orthopedics & Rheumatology. 2015;2(5). doi:10.15406/mojor.2015.02.00068
  2.   Lubart R, Wollman Y, Friedmann H, Rochkind S, Laulicht I. Effects of visible and near-infrared lasers on cell cultures. Journal of photochemistry and photobiology B, Biology. 1992;12(3):305-310. doi:10.1016/1011-1344(92)85032-p
  3.    de Sousa APC, Paraguassú GM, Silveira NTT, et al. Laser and LED phototherapies on angiogenesis. Lasers in Medical Science. 2013;28(3):981-987. doi:10.1007/s10103-012-1187-z
  4.    Tumilty S, Munn J, McDonough S, Hurley DA, Basford JR, Baxter GD. Low level laser treatment of tendinopathy: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Photomedicine and laser surgery. 2010;28(1):3-16. doi:10.1089/pho.2008.2470
  5.    Chow RT, Johnson MI, Lopes-Martins RA, Bjordal JM. 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. The Lancet. 2009;374(9705):1897-1908. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61522-1
  6.    Argenta PA, Ballman K v., Geller MA, et al. The effect of photobiomodulation on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy: A randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial. Gynecologic Oncology. 2017;144(1):159-166. doi:10.1016/j.ygyno.2016.11.013




Dr. David Chang ND, LAc David Chang, ND, LAc, is a board-licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist with extensive training in Naturopathic primary care and classical Chinese medicine. With more than six years of professional experience and a strong interest in chronic pain management, he is proud to own and operate his practice in Portland, Oregon.

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