Aim: The aim of the study was to compare LASER versus transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) in reducing pain and paraesthesia; and in improving motor and sensory median nerve conduction parameters in mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Design: Randomised blinded pilot study. Patients and staff administered treatments and outcome measures were blinded.
Setting: Outpatient; Research and Care Rehabilitation Institute.
Participants: Twenty CTS symptomatic patients.
Interventions: Fifteen sessions of: 1) 100 Hz TENS (30 minutes; rectangular waves; 80 ms width, intensity below muscle contraction); 2) combined 830-1064 nm LASER (radiating dose: 250 J cm-2 delivered to the skin overlying the course of the median nerve at the wrist for 100 s at 25 W (18 W [1064 nm] + 7 W [830 nm]) via a fiber-optic probe with a spot size of ~1 cm2). Outcome measures. Visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain and paresthesia; median nerve distal motor latency and sensory nerve conduction velocity.
Results: LASER improved both positive and negative sensory symptoms. TENS induced clinical improvement but this was not statistically significant and was limited to pain reduction. LASER but not TENS favourably modified the neurophysiological parameters.
Conclusion: High-intensity combined LASER wavelengths of 830 nm and 1064 nm, which produce a better transparency with less scattering and a high energy transfer, are better than TENS in improving both pain and paraesthesia as well as neurophysiological parameters in CTS.