Low-level laser therapy for acute neck pain with radiculopathy: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study

Pain Med. 2010 Aug;11(8):1169-78. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2010.00907.x.


Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate clinical effects of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in patients with acute neck pain with radiculopathy.

Design: Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study.

Setting: The study was carried out between January 2005 and September 2007 at the Clinic for Rehabilitation at the Medical School, University of Belgrade, Serbia.

Patients and intervention: Sixty subjects received a course of 15 treatments over 3 weeks with active or an inactivated laser as a placebo procedure. LLLT was applied to the skin projection at the anatomical site of the spinal segment involved with the following parameters: wavelength 905 nm, frequency 5,000 Hz, power density of 12 mW/cm(2), and dose of 2 J/cm(2), treatment time 120 seconds, at whole doses 12 J/cm(2).

Outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was pain intensity as measured by a visual analog scale. Secondary outcome measures were neck movement, neck disability index, and quality of life. Measurements were taken before treatment and at the end of the 3-week treatment period.

Results: Statistically significant differences between groups were found for intensity of arm pain (P = 0.003, with high effect size d = 0.92) and for neck extension (P = 0.003 with high effect size d = 0.94).

Conclusion: LLLT gave more effective short-term relief of arm pain and increased range of neck extension in patients with acute neck pain with radiculopathy in comparison to the placebo procedure.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / radiotherapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiculopathy / radiotherapy*
  • Treatment Outcome