We investigated if low level laser therapy (LLLT) of the joint capsule can reduce pain in chronic joint disorders. A literature search identified 88 randomised controlled trials, of which 20 trials included patients with chronic joint disorders. Six trials were excluded for not irradiating the joint capsule. Three trials used doses lower than a dose range nominated a priori for reducing inflammation in the joint capsule. These trials found no significant difference between active and placebo treatments. The remaining 11 trials including 565 patients were of acceptable methodological quality with an average PEDro score of 6.9 (range 5-9). In these trials, LLLT within the suggested dose range was administered to the knee, temporomandibular or zygapophyseal joints. The results showed a mean weighted difference in change of pain on VAS of 29.8 mm (95% CI, 18.9 to 40.7) in favour of the active LLLT groups. Global health status improved for more patients in the active LLLT groups ( relative risk of 0.52; 95% CI 0.36 to 0.76). Low level laser therapy with the suggested dose range significantly reduces pain and improves health status in chronic joint disorders, but the heterogeneity in patient samples, treatment procedures and trial design calls for cautious interpretation of the results.