Randomized controlled trial on low level laser therapy (LLLT) in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand

Lucie Brosseau, George Wells, Serge Marchand, Isabelle Gaboury, Barbara Stokes, Michelle Morin, Lynn Casimiro, Katharine Yonge, Peter Tugwell
Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 2005, 36 (3): 210-9

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Low level laser therapy (LLLT) offers promising symptomatic relief of osteoarthritic (OA) pain. We examined efficacy of active LLLT versus sham LLLT on finger joints and three superficial nerves.

STUDY DESIGN/MATERIALS AND METHODS: OA-patients randomly assigned, received three treatments per week for 6 weeks of LLLT (n = 42) or sham LLLT (n = 46).

RESULTS: Pain relief, morning stiffness, and functional status did not significantly improve for LLLT versus placebo. No significant differences were found in finger range of motion, except carpometacarpal opposition (P = 0.011), grip strength, and patient global assessment which improved for active LLLT participants (P = 0.041).

CONCLUSIONS: LLLT is no better than placebo at reducing pain, morning stiffness, or improving functional status for OA-hand patients.

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