Introduction: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common degenerative joint disease particularly in older subjects. It is usually associated with pain, restricted range of motion, muscle weakness, difficulties in daily living activities and impaired quality of life. To determine the effects of adding two different intensities of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to exercise training program on pain severity, joint stiffness, physical function, isometric muscle strength, range of motion of the knee, and quality of life in older subjects with knee OA.
Methods: Patients were randomly assigned into three groups. They received 16 sessions, 2 sessions/week for 8 weeks. Group-I: 18 patients were treated with a laser dose of 6 J/cm(2) with a total dose of 48 J. Group-II: 18 patients were treated with a laser dose of 3 J/cm(2) with a total dose of 27 J. Group-III: 15 patients were treated with laser without emission as a placebo. All patients received same exercise training program including stretching and strengthening exercises. Patients were evaluated before and after intervention by visual analogue scale (VAS), the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis (WOMAC) index for quality of life, handheld dynamometer and universal goniometer.
Results: T test revealed that there was a significant reduction in VAS and pain intensity, an increase in isometric muscle strength and range of motion of the knee as well as increase in physical functional ability in three treatment groups. Also analysis of variance (ANOVA) proved significant differences among them and the post hoc tests (LSD) test showed the best improvements for patients of the first group.
Conclusion: It can be concluded that addition of LLLT to exercise training program is more effective than exercise training alone in the treatment of older patients with chronic knee OA and the rate of improvement may be dose dependent, as with 6 J/cm(2) or 3 J/cm(2).
Keywords: Laser therapy; Life Quality; Osteoarthritis.