The Willow Curve
May 20th, 2015
UPDATE 6/26/20: The FTC filed a federal lawsuit against two companies and two top-level executives that market the Willow Curve for allegedly falsely claiming that the device relieves pain without adequate scientific support or FDA approval to make such claims, and using misleading ads that look like independent news stories. The complaint also alleges that an advertised risk-free, money-back guarantee requires consumers to pay fees – including shipping and handling – to get their money back and, in many cases, the defendants have not provided consumers with refunds.
Under the terms of a proposed settlement agreement, the defendants are prohibited from making pain relief and other health claims that are false, unsubstantiated, and not approved by the FDA. The defendants are also prohibited from misrepresenting that paid ads are independent news stories, misrepresenting material terms of refund policies, and failing to provide consumers with refunds. The agreement also includes a $22 million judgment, which will be partially suspended when the individual defendants each pay $200,000.
The Willow Curve is a futuristic-looking device marketed to treat more than 30 nerve and joint conditions through its “smart laser” technology. Push a button and the product is said to deliver relief from pain, swelling and stiffness in just minutes. What’s more, it can even help save you from surgery.
“Are you considering shoulder or knee surgery? Please, pay close attention,” TV personality Chuck Woolery says in the above commercial for the Willow Curve. “Because this device, the Willow Curve, has helped save people from invasive surgery like knee replacement.”
People like NFL Hall of Famer Charlie Sanders, who Woolery says “actually canceled his own knee replacement after using the Curve.” But Sanders’ story changes slightly when told on the Willow Curve website, which states that the former Detroit Lions tight end “significantly postponed his knee surgery” after picking up the product. So was the Curve able to ultimately prevent surgery or not? That part’s unclear.
Another red flag: Claims that the Willow Curve treats conditions such as arthritis, carpal tunnel and plantar fasciitis, seem largely backed by customer testimonials rather than independent clinical trials. It’s unclear to what extent Willow Curve verifies the testimonials on its website but several of the customer photos are stock images, including that of Phillip C., who vouches for the product’s ability to treat gout (see stock photo here).
In the commercial, Woolery says that the Willow Curve is “similar to technologies used in clinics across the country.” But the former Love Connection host does not name any of those clinics. The names of the specific institutions are also missing from the product’s website, which only states that the Willow Curve “has been used successfully to treat a number of conditions in thousands of hospitals and clinics nationwide.”
The Willow Curve is advertised as a cheaper alternative to surgery but at $600 a pop, it pays to do your own research and consult with your doctor before you give this product a try.
Find more of our coverage on joint pain here.