Laser Therapy Provides Alternative to Opioids

“In a large retrospective study involving over 390,000 older outpatients [ages 66 and up] undergoing minor ambulatory surgery procedures, older patients receiving prescription opioid analgesics within 7 days of discharge were 44% more likely to continue using opioids 1 year after surgery[1].“  This disturbing information was provided in a peer reviewed study in the Arch Intern Med journal.  We are hearing time and time again that there is an opioid crisis, yet the medication is still being prescribed.  Why?

There is not one prolonged study of opioid use that has demonstrated a long-term benefit to the user. “An epidemiological study by Eriksen et al. involving patients with chronic pain treated with opioids for 5 years provided compelling evidence that opioids were not a panacea for chronic pain. In fact, the patients’ quality of life failed to improve despite escalating doses of opioids over the 5-year study period. The authors concluded that ‘it is remarkable that opioid treatment of long-term/chronic non-cancer pain does not seem to fulfill any of the key outcome treatment goals, namely pain relief, improved quality of life and improved functional capacity’ [2]. More recent studies suggest that long-term opioid use can actually retard functional recovery[3].”

With this ever-increasing epidemic, it is time more doctors and patients look to alternative therapies in treating pain.  Advancements in medical technology have led to the development of the MLS Laser, a device that works at a cellular level.  Approved by the FDA, it is readily available for doctors to use.

The MLS Laser uses certain wavelengths to penetrate the skin down to a cellular level without the need of numbing medications or incisions.  When the laser is able to reach the mitochondria, it is able to provide a therapeutic result, in that, ATP (energy cells) production is increased, there is an increase in cell reproduction, an increase in oxygen transportation to cells and, a reduction in cytokines which in part cause inflammation, in addition, a resulting effect of a reduction in pain[4].

In fact, many well-controlled studies have confirmed the benefits of using laser therapy for improving acute and chronic pain management without the need of medications like opioids. And, additional studies have “confirmed enhanced wound healing in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients” according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

So why do so many doctors still over prescribe opioids? It is because they make the choice to do so over offering non-analgesic options like laser therapy.  There are a few possible causes to why they make these decisions: one, while there are plenty of short-term studies for pain reduction with laser therapy, there is still very little data on long term studies, and that can make doctors nervous. Two, there is a “low reimbursement by third-party payers to the health-care providers administering these non-traditional therapeutic modalities” according to NCBI. And three, there are still some in the medical community that question the analgesic efficacy even though there are plenty of studies backing it up.

It will take a progressive and forward-thinking doctor to recognize that the benefits of laser therapy greatly outweigh the convenience of prescribing an opioid to their patients.  It is up to the medical community to put an end to the opioid epidemic and start embracing non-analgesic options.

Sonoma County Foot & Ankle proudly offer MLS Laser Therapy to their patients, conveniently located at their practice.  If you would like to learn more about MLS Laser Therapy, please visit our website  If you would like to schedule a consultation to see if MLS Laser Therapy is right for you, please call our office at (707) 578-1222.




[1] Alam A, Gomes T, Zheng H, et al. : Long-term analgesic use after low-risk surgery: a retrospective cohort study. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(5):425–30. 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.1827

[2] Eriksen J, Sjøgren P, Bruera E, et al. : Critical issues on opioids in chronic non-cancer pain: an epidemiological study. Pain. 2006;125(1–2):172–9. 10.1016/j.pain.2006.06.009

[3]White F. Paul, Lazo Ofelia, et al. : Use of electroanalgesia and laser therapies as alternatives to opioids for acute and chronic pain management.  [version 1; referees: 2 approved]. F1000Research 2017, 6(F1000 Faculty Rev):2161

[4] Ojea AR, Madi O, Neto RM, et al. : Beneficial Effects of Applying Low-Level Laser Therapy to Surgical Wounds After Bariatric Surgery. Photomed Laser Surg. 2016;34(11):580–4. 10.1089/pho.2016.4149