Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo or active-treatment controlled trials
Chow RT, Johnson MI, Lopes-Martins RA, Bjordal JM.
Nerve Research Foundation, Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia. email@example.com
Lancet. 2009 Dec 5;374(9705):1897-908. Epub 2009 Nov 13. [PMID: 19913903]
Background: Neck pain is a common and costly condition for which pharmacological management has limited evidence of efficacy and side-effects. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a relatively uncommon, non-invasive treatment for neck pain, in which non-thermal laser irradiation is applied to sites of pain. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials to assess the efficacy of LLLT in neck pain.
Methods: We searched computerised databases comparing efficacy of LLLT using any wavelength with placebo or with active control in acute or chronic neck pain. Effect size for the primary outcome, pain intensity, was defined as a pooled estimate of mean difference in change in mm on 100 mm visual analogue scale.
Findings: We identified 16 randomised controlled trials including a total of 820 patients. In acute neck pain, results of two trials showed a relative risk (RR) of 1.69 (95% CI 1.22-2.33) for pain improvement of LLLT versus placebo. Five trials of chronic neck pain reporting categorical data showed an RR for pain improvement of 4.05 (2.74-5.98) of LLLT. Patients in 11 trials reporting changes in visual analogue scale had pain intensity reduced by 19.86 mm (10.04-29.68). Seven trials provided follow-up data for 1-22 weeks after completion of treatment, with short-term pain relief persisting in the medium term with a reduction of 22.07 mm (17.42-26.72). Side-effects from LLLT were mild and not different from those of placebo.
Interpretation: We show that LLLT reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain.
Systematic review of the literature of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in the management of neck pain
Chow RT, Barnsley L.
Castle Hill Medical Centre, Castle Hill Medical Centre, 269-271 Old Northern Road, Castle Hill, New South Wales 2154, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Lasers Surg Med. 2005 Jul;37(1):46-52. [PMID: 15954117]
Background and objectives: Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is widely used in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. However, there is controversy over its true efficacy. We aimed to determine the efficacy of LLLT in the treatment of neck pain through systematically reviewing the literature.
Study design/materials and methods: A search of computerized bibliographic databases covering medicine, physiotherapy, allied health, complementary medicine, and biological sciences was undertaken undertaken from date of inception until February 2004 for randomized controlled trials of LLLT for neck pain. A comprehensive list of search terms was applied and explicit inclusion criteria were developed a priori. Twenty studies were identified, five of which met the inclusion criteria.
Results: Significant positive effects were reported in four of five trials in which infrared wavelengths (lambda = 780, 810-830, 904, 1,064 nm) were used. Heterogeneity in outcome measures, results reporting, doses, and laser parameters precluded formal meta-analysis. Effect sizes could be calculated for only two of the studies.
Conclusions: This review provides limited evidence from one RCT for the use of infrared laser for the treatment of acute neck pain (n = 71) and chronic neck pain from four RCTs (n = 202). Larger studies are required to confirm the positive findings and determine the most effective laser parameters, sites and modes of application.