When you really want something to be true it is sometimes easy to let your normal standards of evidence to drop. If you have back pain – and most of us do at some time – it would be really great if there was a simple treatment that could relieve it. Philips BlueTouch Pain Relief Patch is claimed to do just that. It is a device that irradiates the back with a particular wavelength of light that triggers the release of nitric oxide which in turn increases blood flow and reduces inflammation. The price tag is £200 which would be a price well worth paying if it works. I can imagine a lot of people putting their hands in their pockets for something like this.
The rationale is a bit far fetched, but not totally out of the question. The question is whether there is any evidence that it works. And the evidence needs to be in the form of trying it out on people with and without the light, and seeing whether there is any difference in their experience of pain.
Thanks to a couple of skeptical customers complaining to the Advertising Standards Agency we have the chance to see what evidence Philips have to back up their claim. The ASA have published the full forensic detail of their defence of their claim, but it can be summarised very simply. They don’t have any actual proof, just a bit of waffle.
This is a bit of a shame as it sounds like it would be a fantastic product if it actually worked. It wouldn’t be a bad product if just had some effect. There are a lot of bad backs out there. A cheap, simple and safe way of relieving some of the misery would be of great benefit. I hope that Philips can find the time to check it out properly soon.