Laser for Pain

In an age where technological advancements are constantly reshaping the landscape of healthcare, an intriguing and innovative therapy has emerged – photobiomodulation therapy (PBM). Also known as laser therapy or low-level light therapy, PBM involves the application of specific wavelengths of light to living tissues, with the aim of promoting healing, reducing pain, and improving various physiological processes. This article delves into the science behind photobiomodulation and a few of its many applications.

The Basics of Photobiomodulation Therapy

Photobiomodulation (laser therapy) is rooted in the interaction between light and cells in the body. Unlike high-intensity lasers used for surgical procedures, PBM employs low-level light at specific wavelengths, typically in the visible to near-infrared range. These wavelengths are chosen based on their ability to penetrate tissues without causing harm, while still exerting a positive effect on cellular function- some being repair and regeneration. As the light penetrates the cells, it stimulates the body’s healing processes to spring into action and work more efficiently. This aids in pain reduction, improved blood flow, and a magnitude other benefits that we will get into. 

At the cellular level, PBM is researched to be effective through various mechanisms, including:

  • Mitochondrial Stimulation: Mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, are known to be receptive to light energy. Photobiomodulation is believed to enhance mitochondrial activity and the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that fuels cellular processes.
  • Improved Blood Flow: PBM has been shown to enhance the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and improve blood circulation. This can aid in tissue repair and wound healing.
  • Reduction of Oxidative Stress: PBM has the potential to mitigate oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which play a role in various health conditions.
  • Gene Expression: Light exposure can influence gene expression, leading to the activation of genes that promote healing and tissue regeneration.

For these great effects, laser therapy is dependent on three key factors; penetration, absorption, and dosage. The laser has to be able to get to the targeted tissues (penetration), be absorbed by those cells, and supply the correct amount of energy to be productive. To hit these desired targets, the choice of wavelength, spot size, and time of treatment is vital. Different wavelengths are able to penetrate different depths/tissue layers. It is a little bit of a complicated equation to break down, but when all three parties are working together- the laser has impressive results. As more research is released, these benefitting results are able to be applied to a larger variety of physiological conditions with favorable outcomes.

Applications of PBM Therapy

  • Pain Management: One of the most well-established applications of PBM is pain relief. It has been used to alleviate both acute and chronic pain conditions, such as musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, headaches, and even post-operative pain.
  • Wound Healing: Photobiomodulation can accelerate wound healing by enhancing cellular migration, collagen production, and angiogenesis. It’s been applied to diabetic ulcers, surgical wounds, and burns with promising results.
  • Skin Health and Rejuvenation: PBM is finding its way into the realm of skincare and dermatology. It’s believed to stimulate collagen production, improve skin texture, and aid in the treatment of conditions like acne and psoriasis.
  • Neurological Disorders: While still an area of ongoing research, there’s growing interest in using PBM for neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neurodegenerative disorders. It’s thought to exert neuroprotective effects and support brain tissue recovery.
  • Sports Medicine: Athletes are increasingly turning to PBM to speed up recovery from injuries, reduce muscle fatigue, improve strength gain, and enhance performance.


Photobiomodulation therapy is an emerging field that holds great promise for a wide range of health applications. By harnessing the power of light to modulate cellular function, PBM offers a non-invasive and effective approach to pain management, wound healing, and various other conditions. Laser therapy activates quicker ATP production amongst the cells, which allows the for greater vasodilation, more efficient biological mechanisms, and cellular repair. The laser essentially allows the body better do it naturally tries to do- heal and take care of you! As research continues to unveil the underlying mechanisms and refine treatment protocols, photobiomodulation therapy could become an integral part of modern healthcare, offering patients new avenues for improved well-being and quality of life.