Laser Acupuncture Treatment Improves Pain and Functional Status in Patients with Subacromial Impingement Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Sham-Controlled Study

Pain Med. 2017 May 1;18(5):980-987. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnw197.


Objective: The present study aims to determine the effect of laser acupuncture in patients with subacromial impingement syndrome (SAIS).

Design: Randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study.

Setting: Physical medicine and rehabilitation outpatient clinic.

Subjects: A total 73 patients with SAIS were randomly assigned into a treatment group (n = 36) and a control group (n = 37).

Methods: The treatment group received laser acupuncture, and the control group received sham laser acupuncture. Eleven acupuncture points (GB 21, LI 4, LI 11, LI 14, LI 15, LI 16, SI 9, SI 10, SI 11, TE 14, and TE 15) were irradiated using a gallium-aluminium-arsenide continuous wave diode-laser, with a wavelength of 850 nm and a power output of 100 mV. The laser acupuncture treatment at each acupuncture point was administered at 4 joules/cm 2 (total dose = 40 joules). All patients were also treated with a hot pack. The patients were assessed at baseline and after 15 sessions of laser treatment. Pain severity and doctor's and patient's global assessments were measured via visual analog scale (VAS). Range of motion (ROM) and functional status were measured using a digital inclinometer and the Shoulder Pain Disability Index, respectively.

Results: Statistically significant improvements were observed in all parameters in the treatment group. All parameters of pain and functional status in the treatment group were significantly better than those in the control group at week 3.

Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that investigates the effect of laser acupuncture in SAIS. The positive results of the present study should lead to further laser acupuncture studies with combinations of different acupuncture points, at different wavelengths, and with long-term follow-up periods.

Keywords: Acupuncture; Laser; Shoulder Pain; Subacromial Impingement Syndrome.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Analgesia / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebo Effect
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome / therapy*
  • Shoulder Pain / diagnosis*
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult