The Discovery of Low Level Laser Therapy

Celebrating 125 Years of Chiropractic

Chiropractic medicine celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. To commemorate all the accomplishments of the past 125 years, we will focus on a different achievement or innovation each month. Last month, we explored 1950-1960 and the introduction of the Thompson Technique. This month, we will dive into 1960-1970 and the development of Low Level Laser Therapy.

Who is Endre Mester? 

In 1967, Endre Mester, a physician, led the discovery of what is now known as Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT). Recognized by many as the grandfather of laser therapy, Mester began his research in 1965. During his initial research, he was attempting to replicate an experiment with ruby lasers—first conducted by Paul E. McGuff.1

Although his experiment didn’t provide the same results as McGuff’s, Mester discovered that the low level laser beam he used could possibly be beneficial in other ways. 

What is Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)?

According to the article “The Use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) For Musculoskeletal Pain,” “Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) sometimes known as Low Level Light Therapy or Photobiomodulation (PBM) is a low intensity light therapy. The effect is photochemical not thermal. The light triggers biochemical changes within cells and can be compared to the process of photosynthesis in plants, where the photons are absorbed by cellular photoreceptors and triggers chemical changes.”2

Unlike the high-powered lasers that may come to mind when you think of laser therapy, the low level lasers discovered by Mester are low power—meaning they don’t generate heat that could make treatments uncomfortable on the skin. However, Low Level Laser Therapy isn’t a form of treatment that stands on its own. It should only be used or applied after an initial chiropractic treatment.2

How It Works

The treatment time for Low Level Laser Therapy is anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.2 Depending on the patient’s needs, there could be multiple “points” that are targeted by the therapy. According to the article “The Use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) For Musculoskeletal Pain,” “There are four clinical targets for LLLT:

  1. The site of injury to promote healing, remodeling and reduce inflammation.
  2. Lymph nodes to reduce edema and inflammation.
  3. Nerves to induce analgesia.
  4. Trigger points to reduce tenderness and relax contracted muscle fibers.”2

Endre Mester’s discovery of Low Level Laser Therapy set the stage for the use of laser therapy in modern chiropractic practices. Today, it is used in a variety of different ways by medical professionals who have patients with inflammation, aches, or muscle spasms.3

Non-invasive laser therapy offers chiropractors an additional modality to add to their services. With the rise in technological innovations throughout chiropractic history, it is now possible to offer patients an array of treatment alternatives, like laser therapy, to help relieve sore muscles and joints. 

Looking Ahead

As we continue our look at chiropractic technology and innovations throughout the decades, next month we will focus on 1970-1980, more specifically electrotherapy and chiropractic services offered in all 50 states.

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1Hamblin, Michael R. “Photobiomodulation or Low-Level Laser Therapy.” Journal of Biophotonics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2016,

2Cotler, Howard B, et al. “The Use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) For Musculoskeletal Pain.” MOJ Orthopedics & Rheumatology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015,

3Pietrangelo, Ann. “Cold Laser Therapy: Procedure, Purpose, Pros/Cons, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 23 June 2051,

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