Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Laser therapy “biology” 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
Get posts in your inbox:
Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Facepalm o’ the day: laser therapy for trigger points works because it “energizes the damaged cells.” Stated by someone who trains trigger point therapists (I could link, but I try to avoid public shaming—I don’t need the drama). But it’s a variant of a common claim made by many laser therapy mongers. This example just stood out because it reflects so poorly on both laser and trigger point therapy.

The claim is not only biologically implausible, it’s not even defensible as an informal, dumbed down explanation, because there’s no more complicated version to simplify. It’s just pure nonsense that has nothing to do with actual biology. It’s not even wrong.

Laser therapy is one of those topics I’ve never looked into carefully, but I have certainly noticed that it is strongly associated with red flag claims like this. I’ve also been doing this job long enough to know that, if a treatment was genuinely promising and legit, I would’ve heard about it long ago. The WHAILO principle? That should be getting more potent as I age. Another decade of this and I won’t have to critically evaluate any claim!

P.S. Another even more ridiculous laser therapy claim reported by someone else: it “kickstarts photosynthesis in human cells”! That’s not even close to an actual thing, of course, because humans aren't plants and we don't do photosynthesis, ever.