You can treat neck pain with light therapy?

"Can light therapy help with my neck pain?"

This is a question we're frequently asked here at SYMBYX. Perhaps you've read somewhere that light therapy can be used to treat pain and inflammation, or you've seen people sitting in front of red light panels on the internet, or you already have a SYMBYX DuoCare 904 for Parkinson's, and are now wondering if it can also be used on that sore neck you woke up with this morning.

Well, the answer is yes!

All SYMBYX handheld devices are ARTG and CE-listed for a reduction in pain and inflammation and promoting tissue repair around the body. This means that you can use our devices on your sore neck, your achy knees, your hips, and any other areas that tend to experience pain and inflammation. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the science and research behind light therapy for neck pain, how to maximise the effectiveness of treatment, which devices are best for treating neck pain, and what to do if you have any questions. 


So, what does the research say?

Research has shown that light therapy is effective for both acute and chronic neck pain (1). However, this is only true if the recommended dosages are used. Some studies have used dosages that are too high, and shown that, if too much light is shone on the neck, it stops being an effective treatment. It doesn't cause further injury or damage per se (in over 6000+ studies on light therapy, no serious adverse events have been reported); rather, the cells become oversaturated with light and there is no longer a notable positive therapeutic effect.


Why does this happen? 

Light therapy works on a 'u-curve': too little light stimulus will not trigger any response from your body, but too much can also be ineffective. This is known as the ‘biphasic dose response’, but at SYMBYX, we simply call it the Goldilocks principle. In other words, you want the 'just right' amount of light stimulus, which is why it's important to always follow evidence-based protocols, such as the ones that are provided with your SYMBYX device

It's also why, for people with chronic neck pain, we don't recommend treating every day. The recommendation is to treat up to 3 times per week, with a day's rest in between treatment sessions. To get the best results, you should also combine light therapy with other habits, such as exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and massage or other therapies where appropriate. 

What about the different wavelengths of light?

Interestingly, the research also suggests that if you're using a 904 nm (nanometer) device, a lower dosage is required to get a positive effect compared to a 750-900 nm device (1), such as those used in specialist clinics. This is great news if you’re looking to treat at home, as SYMBYX’s handheld lasers emit 904 nm infrared light. So, you can treat pain and inflammation from the comforts of your own home instead of regularly seeing a specialist!


How does light therapy reduce neck pain?

Light therapy for neck pain, also known as laser light therapy, photobiomodulation, or cold laser, works on the body in 4 main ways:

1) Acts as a pain block, to reduce the intensity and frequency of pain signals in the nervous system

2) Reduces inflammation

3) Reduces oxidative stress

4) Improves muscle endurance. When muscles are fatigued, and/or there is a build-up of waste products such as lactic acid, which can cause pain. Light therapy lets your muscles work harder for longer. Many athletes are using it to naturally and drug-free enhance their performance and their recovery! 

Where can I learn more?

Check out this excellent systematic review that was published in the Lancet by Dr Chow et al. on light therapy and neck pain. Dr Roberta Chow is a general practitioner and a world-leading expert on the use of light therapy for pain. She's published extensively and also has a PhD on the topic. 

We also interviewed Dr Roberta Chow to know more about how to treat pain with light therapy. You can watch that interview on our YouTube channel here.

Which device is the right device for me?

If you're a clinician, then our strongest and most versatile device is our ProSeries. It's intended for the clinician treating patients with a range of issues, including arthritis, pain, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, ulcers/wounds, post-shingles pain and more! 

If you're looking for something to use at home, then the DuoCare 904 is our best pain treatment. It comes with 4 different settings so you can specifically and effectively treat at 4 different depths around the body. It's also rechargeable. Our PhysioCare is another device you could go for, that still effectively and powerfully reduces pain and inflammation. Treatment time just might take a little longer, and you'll have to replace the AAA batteries from time to time.


If you're still unsure which device is the best fit for you, you can speak with one of our clinicians via email at, or please contact our Customer Care team via email at


(1) Chow, Roberta T et al, “Efficacy of Low-Level Laser Therapy in the Management of Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Placebo or Active-Treatment Controlled Trials” (2009) 374(9705) The Lancet (British edition) 1897.