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Low Level Laser Therapy relief
for chronic neck pain

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) review of chronic neck pain published by The Lancet, clinical study published in the journal PAIN and acknowledged in latest consensus statement by the WHO Bone and Joint Task Force

Results from the recent Lancet review of Low level laser Therapy for chronic neck pain.

The Lancet report declares that neck pain is approaching epidemic proportions with 10 – 24% of the population affected. Health economic reports from USA and European Union state that musculoskeletal injury and disease costs €240 Billion / €194 Billion annually. The paper also reports that pharmacological therapies for neck pain are widely used but have “not shown any conclusive evidence of benefit” The BMJ agrees “There isn’t any specific research that shows drugs help neck pain”. There is now more evidence for the use of laser for neck pain than any other medical procedure. The Lancet report says “(Relief using) Laser for neck pain lasted for up to 22 weeks.Trials of LLLT for knee osteoarthritis tendinopathies and low back pain reported similar results”. “This contrasts with drug therapies where the effect ends rapidly when treatment is discontinued.”

BRIEF SUMMARY OF LASER STUDIES REVIEWED FOR THE LANCET:

  • 16 RCT's of acceptable methodological quality
  • Mean duration of symptoms 7.5 years +/-36.9months
  • Mean baseline of pain intensity 56.9mm +/-7.5mm

RESULTS:

  • Reduce pain intensity
  • Reduced disability
  • Reduces recurrence of acute neck pain
  • Mean Pain intensity reduction over placebo 20mm (95%CI: 17.1 to 29.8 @ 10-22 weeks)

COMMENT:

This establishes LLLT as an evidence based treatment for neck pain. It is at least equivalent to and probably better than other accepted medical treatments for neck pain

WHAT IS LLLT AND HOW DOES IT WORK ON NECK PAIN:

A gentle beam of laser light can stimulate cells to repair tissues, reduce inflammation and inhibit pain fibres to reduce pain. The application of specific wavelengths of red or near infrared laser or LED light on acute injuries and degenerative conditions relieves pain and improves healing. There are two main mechanisms:

  • At low doses it acts on mitochondrial proteins to reduce oxidative stress and increase production of ATP
  • At high doses it inhibits fast axonal flow in C and A delta fibres causing a temporary neural blockade, reducing central sensitisation.

HOW SOON DOES IT START TO WORK:

Patients typically experience improvement (reduction in pain / greater range of movement) immediately after the first treatment.

HOW MANY TREATMENTS DOES IT TAKE:

It can take as much as a dozen sessions but sometimes as few as three.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD PATIENTS COME FOR TREATMENT:

Twice a week for the first two weeks then once a week for a further two weeks.

HOW LONG DO THE BENEFITS LAST:

In most cases, once an acute episode is over, patients are unlikely to need further treatment. For a few people, the benefit may only be temporary - they may need long term maintenance every 6 - 8 weeks.

ADVANTAGES OVER DRUG THERAPIES

The evidence for LLLT is much stronger than for drug therapies. There are no analgesics or anti-inflammatories licensed for the treatment of neck pain. LLLT also has the advantage of having no side effects, unlike many drug therapies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
  

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