Statistics on the prevalence of chronic low back pain vary by age, gender, and work status, but the incidence exceeds 20% for all U.S. adults in CDC studies. According to a 2018 commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by faculty from the University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine, low back pain is one of the leading reasons for long-term opioid treatment, despite evidence that opioids are not superior to other treatments. In addition to a laundry list of adverse opioid dose-related side effects, about 20% of patients on long-term opioid treatment abuse the medication.

In light of the prevalence of low back pain and issues with opioid treatment, the FDA’s clearance of Erchonia Corporation’s low-level laser treatment for chronic low back pain is a noteworthy development. The FDA success criteria included 30% pain reduction by at least 35% of treated patients. In Erchonia’s cold laser treatment tests, 72% of the patients met the FDA criteria. Due to minimal pain reduction with opioids (30%) and side effects from NSAIDS which reduced pain by 34.5%, low-level laser treatments present a treatment option with no side effects or adverse events.

Ten years ago I had cold laser treatments for piriformis muscle spasms. Two treatments were sufficient to relieve the pain and stop spasms that had persisted for two years despite multiple fluoroscopy-guided steroid injections and long-term treatment with NSAIDS.

Any treatment that causes no harm and brings as much or greater relief than opioids or NSAIDs is welcome news.