Clinical Efficiency of High-Intensity Laser Therapy in Patients With Cervical Radiculopathy: A 12-Week Follow-up, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2024 Jan 1;103(1):3-12. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000002275. Epub 2023 May 1.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to research the clinical effectiveness of high-intensity laser therapy combined with exercise on pain, quality of life, and disability in patients with cervical radiculopathy and compared it with that of placebo and exercise alone.

Design: Ninety participants with cervical radiculopathy were randomized into the following three groups: high-intensity laser therapy + exercise ( n = 30), placebo + exercise ( n = 30), and exercise only ( n = 30). Pain, cervical range of motion, disability, and quality of life (36-item Short Form Health Survey) were assessed at baseline and weeks 4 and 12.

Results: The mean age of the patients (66.7% female) was 48.9 ± 9.3 yrs. Pain intensity in the arm and neck, neuropathic and radicular pain levels, disability, and several parameters of the 36-item Short Form Health Survey showed an improvement in the short and medium term in all three groups. These improvements were greater in the high-intensity laser therapy + exercise group than in the other two groups.

Conclusions: High-intensity laser therapy + exercise was much more effective in improving medium-term radicular pain, quality of life, and functionality in patients with cervical radiculopathy. Thus, high-intensity laser therapy should be considered for the management of cervical radiculopathy.

To claim cme credits: Complete the self-assessment activity and evaluation online at

Cme objectives: At the conclusion of this article, readers will be able to: (1) Define cervical radicular pain and its clinical presentation, and explain the main pathomechanism in cervical radiculopathy (CR); (2) Describe the effects of laser administration on neuropathic pain; and (3) Discuss the clinical significance of coadministration of high-intensity laser therapy (HILT) with exercise (HILT + EX) in CR.

Level: Advanced.

Accreditation: The Association of Academic Physiatrists is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.The Association of Academic Physiatrists designates this Journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) ™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Pain*
  • Neuralgia*
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiculopathy* / therapy