Cold Laser Therapy for Pain Management

Cold Laser (CL) is a non-invasive therapy that helps reduce joint or muscle pain and swelling, while improving the rate of repair in the affected area. It’s used to treat injuries (e.g., sprains, tendinitis, muscle spasms) and joints affected by illness, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, neck and back pain, and nerve pain syndromes.

How does Cold Laser Work?

A low-level red or near-infrared light is emitted and absorbed by soft tissue, which leads to a change on the cellular level, giving damaged tissue a “boost” to promote regeneration. It helps the body rebuild connective tissue and release pain-relieving substances called endorphins. Applied by a doctor, therapist, or technician once or twice weekly, treatments take about 10 minutes. You’ll feel the device moving against your skin, but there is no sound or vibration.

Does CL Therapy Work for RA?

The experience of pain is highly variable among different people, including those living with RA. Studies using CL show promising results for reducing morning pain, stiffness, and swelling over 4-12 weeks, but more long-term research is needed.

Are there Side-effects?

CL Therapy is gentle and no side effects have been reported. It’s important to understand that results vary based on:

  • symptoms treated and the underlying health condition
  • extent of the person’s experience of pain
  • duration of treatment
  • type of device used and the experience of the technician applying treatment

Many types of Cold Laser (CL) devices are approved by the FDA and are sold online for use at home for the temporary relief of pain. This only means that the device is safe to use – it may not be effective for all conditions or symptoms. Consult with a health practitioner (ND, DC, PT or OT) who understands this treatment and can guide you in receiving this therapy or, if appropriate, educating you on purchasing the best device for use at home.



  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries Online. “Low Level Laser Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis.” (October 2005). Accessed 14 May 2018:
  • “Is Cold Laser Therapy Right for You?” Written by Pietrangelo, Ann; Medical Review by Krucik, G T.; (posted Jan 21 2015) Accessed 14 May 2015:
  • Chung, H., Dai, T., Sharma, S., et al., “The nuts and bolts of low-level laser (light) therapy.” Annals of Biomedical Engineering(2011, November 2). 40(2), 516–533. Doi: 10.1007/s10439-011-0454-7. Accessed 15 Mar 2018:
  • “Cold Laser Therapy: Does it Work?” Accessed 14 May 2018:
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