Focused Medical Laser Vs. Traditional Acupuncture: New Study Findings

Focused Medical Laser Vs. Traditional Acupuncture: A glowing outcome for joint pain sufferers

While traditional acupuncture has been successfully practiced for over 3000 years, 2008 saw it officially recognised by The Osteoarthritis Research Society International for the successful treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms. As the new kid on the block, how does focused medical laser treatment stack up against millenniums of proven results from traditional acupuncture directed at joint pain?

Firstly, let’s explore the major differences. Traditional Chinese acupuncture involves the strategic penetration of the skin at various ‘trigger points’ associated with different health benefits, predominantly focusing on pain reduction. You may have tried it yourself and you most definitely have a close friend who has.

A 2012 study found that traditional acupuncture provided clinically significant relief from knee osteoarthritis pain and a greater improvement in function, compared with standard care or waiting for surgery. Additionally,a 2008 review of multiple randomised and controlled acupuncture trials delivered similarly conclusive results supporting acupuncture’s therapeutic effects.

On the other hand, focused medical laser treatment involves the external placement of up to twelve independently programmable lasers onto these same traditional acupuncture trigger points. Different selections of laser light wavelengths (observable as variations of red, green and blue-ish light) penetrate the body’s surface with the aim of delivering a range of therapeutic effects on damaged tissue. Of particular note, while sometimes referred to as ‘laser needling’, this comfortable trans-dermal procedure involves no puncture of the skin at all.

How do they Compare?

In the USA, a 2009 study involving 30 patients (10 Male and 20 female) between the ages of 42 and 95 years, aimed to showcase the reduction in pain of focused medical laser treatments against traditional and proven metal needle acupuncture. At the beginning of the study, 10 of the patients had distressing joint pain in the knee or shoulder, while 20 had chronic pain surrounding their spine. Each patient was treated four times in the order of (needle > laser > needle> laser) and the results were measured 1-3 weeks after each treatment so they could be fairly compared to each other. This study used the common Visual Analog Score (VAS) rating to measure pain (rating results following treatment shown below).

knee,shoulder,spine pain

At the culmination of their treatments, it was reported that each and every patient noted a significant improvement in joint and spine pain  following treatment with focused medical laser and that these improvements were more significant than traditional acupuncture. The graphs below further demonstrate the patient’s preferences when provided the options of either External Medical Laser and traditional metal acupuncture for subsequent treatments.

Prefference, Effectiveness Rating

After discussing the results from the treatment of these 30 participants, the author of this study Dr. Peter Dorsher (Mayo Clinic, Florida), with over 20 years experience in treating myofascial pain conditions, concluded that the focused medical laser treatment was comparatively superior to that of traditional acupuncture in both practicality and effect, paving the way for the adoption of these treatments in the treatment of joint pain and disability.


*Please read: Although the information provided on this page may describe a particular patient experience and/or outcome, readers must understand that each patient presents with a unique medical history and may be recommended a different treatment/surgery by their surgeon to that described above. Individual results may vary between surgery centre/hospital, surgeon, surgery type and patient. Although SkyGen agrees to share all updates from patients at their request, SkyGen does not endorse any physical activities attempted by patients following surgery which do not follow the explicit instructions provided by their surgeon. SkyGen encourages all patients to discuss the risks of such activities with medical professionals before attempting these themselves.

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Written by SkyGen Public Relations

This content is copyright and property of SkyGen Spinal & Orthopaedic. It was written to educate our patients in making informed decisions regarding their own healthcare. SkyGen is Australia's largest international collaboration between world class regenerative medicine clinics and orthopaedic hospitals.