New CDC Guidelines Include Laser Therapy For Low Back Pain

Laser Therapy has evolved exponentially since its’ serendipitous discovery in the 1960s by Hungarian physician, Endre Mester (1903-1984). There are currently over 1500 peer reviewed clinical research trial publications with the vast majority concluding photobiomodulation or laser therapy (PBMT or LLLT)  is an effective treatment for a wide range of medical conditions that typically involve pain symptoms. BIOFLEX light devices include hands-free large surface arrays that induce a systemic immunological response resulting in decreased inflammation and inhibition of pain by blocking local nociceptors. The use of class 3b laser probes focuses light to the deeper tissues to effectively accelerate the healing of injured and diseased tissues.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the USA’s National Public Health Agency and provides evidence-based guidelines for physicians and healthcare professionals. In November of this year, the CDC published Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain. This was long overdue as the opioid crisis continues to plague many countries including the USA and Canada. While the CDC is a USA based agency, many countries follow their guidelines as they are based on current evidence based peer reviewed research. The CDC defines acute pain as sudden in onset and time limited (duration of <1 month) and often is caused by injury, trauma, or medical treatments such as surgery.  Unresolved acute pain or subacute pain (present for 1–3 months) can evolve into chronic pain. Chronic pain typically lasts >3 months and can be the result of an underlying medical disease or condition, injury, medical treatment, inflammation, or unknown cause.  Approximately one in five U.S. adults had chronic pain in 2019 and approximately one in 14 adults experienced “high-impact” chronic pain, defined as having pain on most days or every day during the past 3 months that limited life or work activities. Pain, especially chronic pain, can affect almost every aspect of a person’s life, leading to impaired physical functioning, poor mental health, and reduced quality of life, and contributes to substantial morbidity each year. In 2011, the economic costs of chronic pain were estimated to range from $560 to $635 billion in annual direct medical costs, lost productivity, and disability. The CDC are encouraging physicians to recommend nonopioid therapies especially for subacute and chronic pain based on proven clinical trial research. For low back pain, low level laser therapy (PBMT) was recommended along with spinal manipulation, massage, mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga, acupuncture, and multidisciplinary rehabilitation. NO other therapies were recommended especially electrotherapeutic modalities like TENS, shockwave, ultrasound or PEMF. Many rehabilitation practitioners are aware of the efficacy of PBMT. However, most patients with low back pain still consult with their family physician for treatment that usually includes prescription medication like opiates. The CDC has now concluded these physicians should recommend nonopioid treatment and this guideline will educate many physicians worldwide that PBMT is an effective non-invasive treatment for low back pain.  To read more about the CDC guideline click here and to learn more about BIOFLEX Laser Therapy visit us at
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