Low-energy laser treatment of pain and wounds: Hype, hope, of hokum?

J. R. Basford

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

124 Scopus citations


Research studies of the effects of low-energy laser irradiation on biologic function are growing in number and scope. Although many experiments show alleviation of pain, the quality of the investigations, the number of subjects, and the varied techniques frequently preclude statistical verification. Wound-healing experiments tend to show acceleration of healing, but these findings are often concentrated in the early phases of the healing process and are most pronounced in rodents and rabbits. The evidence in pigs and humans is, at best, unconvincing. Although some investigators have claimned to find 'systemic' rather than simply 'local' effects, many studies fail to show either local or systemic benefit. Currently, no universally accepted theory has explained the mechanism of either 'laser analgesia' or 'laser biostimulation'. Although a theoretical understanding is unnecessary to establish benefit, the lack of knowledge complicates the evaluation of conflicting results. Even though numerous conditions have been treated with these devices, well-proven benefits at the milliwatt levels usually used in the United States have not been published. Currently, the wavelengths, dosage schedules, and appropriate conditions to be treated are not established. Thus, the question of whether these treatments offer hope, or are merely hype and hokum, is unanswered. Because of the large number of positive reports and the innocuous nature of the treatments, further clinical evaluation of laser therapy is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-675
Number of pages5
JournalMayo Clinic Proceedings
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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