Low level laser therapy has gained popularity as a viable course of treatment for various types of pain. In an August 2012 systemic review, researchers suggested that while laser therapy for musculoskeletal disorders had gained popularity, especially due to its lack of reported side effects, its effectiveness was still questioned because several clinical trials had reported that laser therapy for pain was ineffective.
The researchers set out to determine the clinical effectiveness of low level laser therapy (LLLT) on joint pain, specifically. They included clinical trials which adhered the following standards: the laser was used on the joint area, the PEDro scale score was at least 5, and the overall effectiveness of the trial was derived by using a visual analogue scale (VAS). They based their final assessment of the treatment’s effectiveness on a mean weighted difference in the change of the pain scores on the VAS.
Using MEDLINE, the researchers ultimately gathered 22 trials examining joint pain in relation to low level laser therapy. Their review indicated that when low level laser therapy was applied at the joint, it resulted in positive patient outcomes, evidenced by a reduction in pain. They also determined that if the energy doses of the low level laser therapy treatment were restricted to those suggested in a previous study by Bjordal et. al in 2003, they presumed they could predict more reliable pain relief treatments.
Source: Jang H1, Lee H. “Meta-analysis of pain relief effects by laser irradiation on joint areas.” Photomed Laser Surg. 2012 Aug;30(8):405-17. Epub 2012 Jun 29.