Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) for Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Regression

Open Orthop J. 2013 Sep 20:7:396-419. doi: 10.2174/1874325001307010396. eCollection 2013.


Purpose: This systematic review update evaluated low level laser therapy (LLLT) for adults with neck pain.

Methods: Computerized searches (root up to Feb 2012) included pain, function/disability, quality of life (QoL) and global perceived effect (GPE). GRADE, effect-sizes, heterogeneity and meta-regression were assessed.

Results: Of 17 trials, 10 demonstrated high risk of bias. For chronic neck pain, there was moderate quality evidence (2 trials, 109 participants) supporting LLLT over placebo to improve pain/disability/QoL/GPE up to intermediate-term (IT). For acute radiculopathy, cervical osteoarthritis or acute neck pain, low quality evidence suggested LLLT improves ST pain/function/QoL over a placebo. For chronic myofascial neck pain (5 trials, 188 participants), evidence was conflicting; a meta-regression of heterogeneous trials suggests super-pulsed LLLT increases the chance of a successful pain outcome.

Conclusions: We found diverse evidence using LLLT for neck pain. LLLT may be beneficial for chronic neck pain/function/QoL. Larger long-term dosage trials are needed.

Keywords: Low level laser therapy; neck pain; systematic review..