Observation of pain control in patients with bisphosphonate-induced osteonecrosis using low level laser therapy: preliminary results

Photomed Laser Surg. 2011 Jul;29(7):447-52. doi: 10.1089/pho.2010.2835. Epub 2011 Jan 16.


Background: Bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) is an adverse side effect associated with bisphosphonate (BP) therapy, especially when parenteral BP administration is used. Patients affected by BRONJ present wide areas of exposed necrotic bone, particularly after surgical oral procedures. The main symptom is pain that is poorly controlled by common analgesic drugs. Recently, many studies have pointed to the beneficial effect of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in pain reduction for many pathological conditions. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether LLLT could be helpful in managing BRONJ by reducing the problems associated with this condition and the use of analgesic drugs.

Methods: Twelve patients affected by BRONJ were monitored at the Complex Operative Unit of Oral Pathology. Among these patients, only seven referred to pain in necrotic areas and were recruited for LLLT. Laser applications were performed with a double diode laser simultaneously emitting at two different wavelengths (λ = 650 nm and λ = 904-910 nm, spot size = 8 mm). All of the patients were irradiated with a fluence of 0.053 J/cm(2) for 15 min five times over a period of 2 weeks, in a non-contact mode, ∼1 mm from the pathologic area. The patient's maximum and minimum pain was recorded using a numeric rating scale (NRS) evaluation before and after the treatment. Statistical analysis was performed using the Kruskal-Wallis test.

Results: Six patients showed significant pain reduction, and only one patient indicated a worsening of the symptoms, which was probably related to a reinfection of the BRONJ site, which occurred during the study. A statistically significant difference (p < 0.05) was found between the NRS rates before and after the protocol.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that LLLT may be a valid technique to support the treatment of BRONJ-related pain, even though the low number of cases in this study does not permit any conclusive consideration.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / adverse effects*
  • Diphosphonates / adverse effects*
  • Facial Pain / etiology
  • Facial Pain / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jaw Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Jaw Diseases / radiotherapy*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteonecrosis / chemically induced*
  • Osteonecrosis / radiotherapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates