Laser for Headache


Ice and Heat for Headache

Manipulation for Headache

Acupuncture for Headache

Injections for Headache

NSAIDs for Headache

TENS for Headache

Laser for Headache


Treatment Ratings


RISK: 5/5


Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) has been shown to be safe at designated doses, and appears to have side effects similar to placebo (“sugar pill”) treatments.

Tuby H1Hertzberg EMaltz LOron U. Long-term safety of low-level laser therapy at different power densities and single or multiple applications to the bone marrow in mice. Photomed Laser Surg. 2013 Jun;31(6):269-73. doi: 10.1089/pho.2012.3395. Epub 2013 May 15.

Jimenez JJ1Wikramanayake TCBergfeld WHordinsky MHickman JGHamblin MRSchachner LA., Efficacy and safety of a low-level laser device in the treatment of male and female pattern hair loss: a multicenter, randomized, sham device-controlled, double-blind study. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2014 Apr;15(2):115-27. doi: 10.1007/s40257-013-0060-6.




 Evidence regarding the effectiveness of LLLT for headaches is rather limited at this time. A recent review of the scientific literature regarding trigeminal neuralgia (tic doloroux), an extremely painful condition of the trigeminal nerve in the face indicated it has some effectiveness. Another study using laser and drug therapy suggested laser therapy was helpful. Another recent study evaluated LLLT on patients with headache related to tempomandibular joint (TMJ) problems and showed it reduced headache pain significantly.

Some other studies have shown benefit for headaches with LLLT but there is still no generally accepted consensus regarding its effectiveness for headache in the scientific community.

Falaki F, Nejat AH, Dalirsani Z. The Effect of Low-level Laser Therapy on Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Review of Literature. Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects. 2014;8(1):1-5. doi:10.5681/joddd.2014.001.

Therapeutic and Analgesic Efficacy of Laser in Conjunction With Pharmaceutical Therapy for Trigeminal Neuralgia. Ebrahimi H1Najafi S2Khayamzadeh M2Zahedi A3Mahdavi A4. J Lasers Med Sci. 2018 Winter;9(1):63-68. doi: 10.15171/jlms.2018.13. Epub 2017 Dec 26.

Tomaz de Magalhães M, Núñez SC, Kato IT, Ribeiro MS. Light therapy modulates serotonin levels and blood flow in women with headache. A preliminary study. Experimental Biology and Medicine. 2016;241(1):40-45. doi:10.1177/1535370215596383.

Gottschling S, Meyer S, Gribova I, et al. : Laser acupuncture in children with headache: a double-blind, randomized, bicenter, placebo-controlled trial. Pain. 2008;137(2):405–12. 10.1016/j.pain.2007.10.004 [PubMed] [Cross Ref] F1000 Recommendation

Tomaz de Magalhães M, Núñez SC, Kato IT, et al. : Light therapy modulates serotonin levels and blood flow in women with headache. A preliminary study. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2016;241(1):40–5. 10.1177/1535370215596383 [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Costantini D, Delogu G, Lo Bosco L, et al. : The treatment of cranio-facial pain by electroacupuncture and laser irradiation. Ann Ital Chir. 1997;68(4):505–9. [PubMed]

White PF, Elvir Lazo OL, Galeas L, Cao X. Use of electroanalgesia and laser therapies as alternatives to opioids for acute and chronic pain management. F1000Research. 2017;6:2161. doi:10.12688/f1000research.12324.1.



While it might be possible to perform laser therapy ton yourself, this is unlikely. In most jurisdictions laser units are only sold to licensed professionals, and tend to be cost prohibitive, ranging in price from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.


COST: 4/5


Laser therapy is relatively inexpensive, ranging from $20-$50 per session in most clinics. Typically laser therapy treatment plans run from one or two sessions to 10-12 sessions. In general a reasonable course of laser therapy might include 6-12 sessions varying from daily to 3 times per week.   It is widely available in chiropractic, physical therapy and some orthopedic offices, among others.


USEFULNESS (overall rating): 3/5


Low level laser therapy (LLLT), also referred to as Photobiomodulation, or “cold laser”, has been used clinically in the US since 2002. Laser therapy uses light, which is absorbed by tissues to produce cellular changes, which include increases in the production of cellular energy, among other effects. Low Level Laser Therapy is believed to enhance healing, reduce pain and edema, reduce inflammation and increases circulation. LLLT does not produce its effects through heat.

LLLT is used on a variety of conditions, from shoulder and elbow injuries, to neck and back pain, plantar fasciitis, knee pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. While research is ongoing, there is evidence of effectiveness for some conditions (such as certain shoulder conditions and tennis elbow) and less evidence for other conditions.




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