Low level laser therapy (LLLT) for patients with sacroiliac joint pain

Laser Ther. 2011;20(2):117-21. doi: 10.5978/islsm.20.117.


Background and aims: Sacroiliac joint pain not associated with a major etiological factor is a common problem seen in the orthopedic clinical setting, but diagnosis is difficult because of the anatomical area and thus it is sometimes difficult to effect a complete cure. Low level laser therapy (LLLT) has been well-reported as having efficacy in difficult pain types, so the following preliminary study was designed to assess the efficacy of LLLT for sacroiliac pain.

Materials and methods: Nine patients participated, 4 males and 5 females, average age of 50.4 yrs, who attended the outpatient department with sacroiliac pain. The usual major disorders were ruled out. Pain was assessed subjectively pre-and post-LLLT on a visual analog scale, and trunk range of motion was examined with the flexion test to obtain the pre- and post-treatment finger to floor distance (FFD). The LLLT system used was an 830 nm CW diode laser, 1000 mW, 30 sec/point (20 J/cm(2)) applied on the bilateral tender points twice/week for 5 weeks. Baseline and final assessment values (after the final treatment session) were compared with the Wilcoxon signed rank test (nonparametric score).

Results: All patients completed the study. Eight of the 9 patients showed significant pain improvement and 6 demonstrated significantly increased trunk mobility (P <0.05 for both).

Conclusions: LLLT was effective for sacroiliac pain, and this may be due to improvement of the blood circulation of the strong ligaments which support the sacroiliac joint, activation of the descending inhibitory pathway, and the additional removal of irregularities of the sacroiliac joint articular surfaces. Further larger-scale studies are warranted.

Keywords: Low Level Laser Therapy; Sacroiliac joint; Sacroiliac joint pain.