Photobiomodulation therapy by NIR laser in persistent pain: an analytical study in the rat

Lasers Med Sci. 2017 Nov;32(8):1835-1846. doi: 10.1007/s10103-017-2284-9. Epub 2017 Jul 28.


Over the past three decades, physicians have used laser sources for the management of different pain conditions obtaining controversial results that call for further investigations. In order to evaluate the pain relieving possibilities of photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT), we tested two near infrared (NIR) laser systems, with different power, against various kinds of persistent hyperalgesia animal models. In rats, articular pain was reproduced by the intra-articular injection of sodium monoiodoacetate (MIA) and complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA), while compressive neuropathy was modelled by the chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve (CCI). In MIA and CFA models, (NIR) laser (MLS-Mphi, ASA S.r.l., Vicenza, Italy) application was started 14 days after injury and was performed once a day for a total of 13 applications. In MIA-treated animals, the anti-hyperalgesic effect of laser began 5 min after treatment and vanished after 60 min. The subsequent applications evoked similar effects. In CFA-treated rats, laser efficacy started 5 min after treatment and disappeared after 180 min. In rats that underwent CCI, two treatment protocols with similar fluence but different power output were tested using a new experimental device called Multiwave Locked System laser (MLS-HPP). Treatments began 7 days after injury and were performed during 3 weeks for a total of 10 applications. Both protocols reduced mechanical hyperalgesia and hindlimb weight bearing alterations until 60 min after treatment with a higher efficacy recorded for the animals treated using the higher power output. In conclusion, this study supports laser therapy as a potential treatment for immediate relief of chronic articular or neuropathic pain.

Keywords: CFA; MIA; Mononeuropathy; NIR laser; Osteoarthritis; PBMT; Rheumatoid arthritis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Freund's Adjuvant
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Infrared Rays*
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Iodoacetic Acid
  • Lasers*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Neuralgia / chemically induced
  • Neuralgia / radiotherapy
  • Osteoarthritis / chemically induced
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Pain / radiotherapy*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Freund's Adjuvant
  • Iodoacetic Acid