About Willow Curve
What if a single device could relieve your joint pain and reduce swelling? One that was small enough to carry with you? Willow Curve claims to fit the bill.
This portable, low-level laser smart computer is called “the world’s first digital anti-inflammatory device,” since it can treat over 30 different conditions and temporarily relieve joint pain—without potentially harmful medications or invasive surgeries.
With its easy, 2-button operation and U shape, Willow Curve can be placed on many different joints. Once in place, the device emits photonic and thermal kinetic energies that trigger “a series of helpful responses in the body,” which clears toxins from joints and relieves pain.
According to the company, Willow Curve has been proven effective in double-blind studies, is safe and effective for clinical and home use, and causes no side effects. You might experience benefits in as little as one treatment, although most Willow Curve users require a few treatments before experiencing a reduction in pain and inflammation, and/or an increase in range of motion.
There’s no doubt that joint pain can have a very real impact on your quality of life. But is Willow Curve the answer for some much-needed relief, or is it a very expensive gimmick?
When it comes down to it, joint pain is a massive topic, and Willow Curve doesn’t make it any easier by making a whole lot of big claims. As a result, it’s going to take some explanation in order to properly dissect everything so that you can be as informed as possible. Stick with us though, and we’ll promise to make it worth your while!
First, let’s look at how Willow Curve works.
How Does Willow Curve Work?
We’ll talk more about the exact science behind Willow Curve in a moment. For now, we’ll take a brief, high-level overview.
Willow Curve’s manufacturer claims the device can treat more than 30 conditions, including knee pain, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more. For a full list, be sure to read through Willow Curve’s Conditions page.
Whichever condition you’re looking to treat, Willow Curve works over a 4-part process:
- First, more than 150 diagnostic bio-sensory and bio-therapeutic sensors “gather information from the surface of your skin” by reading your body's thermal and electrical response, which is then used to determine the appropriate treatment. Or, as the manufacturer calls it, a “tailored digital prescription on-the-fly.”
- Your joints and surrounding tissues are stimulated through “15 bio-physiological processes,” using photonic and thermal kinetic energies over the course of 25 minutes.
- Blood vessels widen, circulation is improved, and lymphatic flow and immune system response is increased, all of which help reduce pain, boost detoxification, and decrease swelling. Any toxic debris in the affected joint will be cleared away as well.
- Nerve response time is slowed, specific pain receptors are blocked, and endorphins are released, thereby reducing your perception of pain.
Sounds great, right? But can Willow Curve’s low-level lasers really accomplish all this?
The Efficacy of Low-Level Laser Therapy for Pain Relief
Although low-level laser therapy (LLLT) has been used since the 1960s in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments, it seems to be primarily effective for addressing joint pain related to osteoarthritis and other chronic disorders.
Even then, there seems to be a general “lack of consensus over its scientific validity,” and in most cases, its mildly effective benefits appear to be “no better than placebo in relieving short-term pain.” A similar sentiment was expressed on DeviceWatch.org.
If you feel like giving it a try, when it comes to LLLT devices, you’ve got a lot of choices (despite Willow Curve’s claim to be the “world’s first digital anti-inflammatory device”), which you can see for yourself by typing the phrase “light therapy pain relief” or “LLLT pain relief” into your favorite search engine.
Sure, these devices will be designed differently than Willow Curve and will be priced differently (some much less), but the point is that you have options.
Compared to the competition, does Willow Curve have a better track record for providing pain relief?
Is Willow Curve a Clinically Proven Pain Relief Device?
Willow Curve’s manufacturer claims that the device has been proven effective in 2 double-blind studies:
- A 2013 trial completed by the University of Toledo College of Medicine, under the product name WillowMD (this is now the company’s 5th version of the device)
- A 2005 study tested the device’s (MedLite’s) efficacy against ibuprofen
Although this is positive, there are a couple caveats to keep in mind.
First, the 2013 trial appears to only have gauged Willow Curve’s (then known as WillowMD’s) effectiveness against previous models, not against any other joint pain treatment or modality.
For the 2005 study, the device was found to “outperform both the placebo and ibuprofen in most of the objective measures,” other than “self-assessment of knee pain.” In other words, while the study’s participants improved some measure of knee flexibility, their pain was not decreased.
On top of this, the all of the study’s patients were experiencing joint pain caused by renal insufficiency or renal failure, not more common conditions like osteoarthritis.
Lastly, remember how we promised to talk about all the science behind Willow Curve? According to the 2013 study above, here’s exactly how the device (or pretty much any other LLLT device) works:
[Willow Curve] delivers dynamic photonic energy and dynamic thermal kinetic energy, based on a proprietary algorithm, in concert with energy and sensory input data. Dynamic photonic energy comprises the transmission of particles of light (photons) in packets. These packets consist of particles in a spectrum of wavelengths ranging from the visible to the invisible spectrum. The particles are employed using a plurality of parameters, including magnitude (joules), patterns, sweeps, cascades, duty cycles, frequencies, alternations, and time. The energy transmission changes thousands of times per second.
Dynamic thermal kinetic energy comprises joules of heat generated from multiple sources: resistance heat, ambient heat, and thermal mass heat. Thermal properties are manipulated through multiple cycles, deployed in changing joule packets, and delivered in concert with the photonic components.”
Now, we know what science says about LLLT and Willow Curve. But what are the device’s customers saying?
Is Willow Curve Helping Customers Relieve Their Joint Pain?
On the product’s website, Willow Curve had an average customer rating of 4.3 stars. Common complaints claimed that the device helped relieve inflammation and pain, helped delay (or even prevent) surgery, came with an easy return process, as well as excellent customer service.
On the other hand, common complaints cited no improvement in pain or other symptoms, high price, and short battery life.
Outside of the Willow Curve site, there were very few reviews from customers who had actually used the device.
On this Slowtwitch forum thread, a couple members claimed to have experienced great things with Willow Curve, although several other members were skeptical of the science (as we mentioned above). They also noted that infrared (IR) devices like these won’t penetrate deeper than “a few layers of dead skin.” And if it was able to penetrate any deeper, the light would burn your skin.
From a company perspective, Physicians Technology LLC held an A rating with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our research, with only 4 closed complaints (as of 10/12/15). Most of these appeared to reference long shipping times and refund delays.
Overall, most claimed you’d probably get about the same level of pain relief and increased range of motion from a small heating pad.
Compared to a heating pad, how much does Willow Curve cost?
What Does Willow Curve Cost? Can It Be Returned?
Willow Cost will set you back $599, and if you choose to purchase through FuturePay, you could sign up for a payment plan that costs you as little as $25 per month.
Willow Curve’s dimensions are 6.5” X 3.75” X 4.75”, weights 2.85 pounds, and includes the following:
- Charging stations
- Battery pack
- A/C adapter
- Attachment strap
- Best Practices Complete user guide
- Quick Start user’s guide
If purchased directly through the manufacturer, Willow Curve comes with a 90-day refund policy. In order to request one, you’ll need to contact customer service at 800-257-4505.
Note: Willow Curve is also available at select Brookstone locations.
Given all of this, should Willow Curve be your next device for pain relief?
Is Willow Curve Your Solution for Pain Relief?
As we’ve discussed in countless pain relief reviews in the past, the most important thing to remember is that pain is a symptom, not a cause. So, even if you and a friend are both experiencing knee pain (for example), the causes of this pain—and any effective treatment options available to you—can be vastly different.
The point? If you’re experiencing chronic joint pain, the first person you should speak with is your doctor. They’ll be able to recommend a specific treatment based on your diagnosis.
With this out of the way, our main concern about Willow Curve isn’t necessarily a question of efficacy; it’s one of value. This is because, even though LLLT devices like Willow Curve do have some positive clinical evidence to support them, the overall evidence for the benefits of LLLT is murky at best. And even when this technology is effective, it’s often only related to chronic conditions like osteoarthritis.
So, can Willow Curve’s lasers increase blood flow and circulation? Perhaps. But you know what else might work just as well (maybe even better)? A small heating pad from your local pharmacy, which will be priced much—much—lower than Willow Curve.
Did you purchase Willow Curve? Did it help relieve your joint pain and/or reduce inflammation? Overall, would you say that it’s a good investment? Tell us about it by writing a review below!
4 out 8 people found this review helpful
It works for me
I was very skeptical, but ordered the Willow Curve thinking I could return it. I have pain in my hands, feet, knees etc. This actually reduces my pain so I will not be returning it. I have a heat pad which is comfortable, but when my hands or feet are throbbing, it does not stop the pain.
I don't know, or care, if it is the placebo effect as long as I get relief.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
5 out 9 people found this review helpful
Willow Curve works!
I purchased the Willow Curve at least six months ago and am very pleased with this product. Both my knees are bone to bone. I have gone from only being able to walk a short distance to five times the distance. I would recommend this to anyone with the same problem I have. I can now go to Walmart and walk behind a basket instead of rising in their scooter! Try it for 90 days. If it doesn't work for you, send it back!
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend