Cold Laser and Tennis Elbow
Photomed Laser Surg. 2010 Jun;28(3):397-403. doi: 10.1089/pho.2009.2555.
Investigation of the effect of GaAs laser therapy on lateral epicondylitis.
Emanet SK, Altan LI, Yurtkuran M.
Uludağ University Medical Faculty, Atatürk Rehabilitation Center, Rheumatic Disease and Hydrotherapy Section, Bursa, Turkey.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:
There are conflicting reports regarding the efficacy of low energy laser therapy in treatment of lateral epicondylitis (LE). Contradictory results are considered to be due to different joint treatment protocols regarding variables such as dose, duration, and frequency. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of gallium-arsenide (GaAs) laser therapy, which was performed with the dose regimen recommended by the World Association for Laser Therapy, in relieving pain and improving functional activities in patients with LE.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
Forty-nine patients (50 elbows) evaluated in our outpatient clinic were included in the study. Elbows were randomized into two groups: laser (n = 25) and placebo laser (n = 25). Either laser or placebo laser therapy was applied to patients for 15 sessions (5 d per week for 3 weeks). Main outcome measures were visual analog scale, tenderness, Disability of the Arm Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire, the Patient-Related Lateral Epicondylitis Evaluation (PRTEE) test, pain-free grip strength, and the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) questionnaire. Evaluations were performed before treatment, at the end of 3 weeks of treatment, and after the 12th week of treatment ended.
Upon post-treatment evaluation, a significant improvement in all parameters was observed for both groups (p < 0.05). No significant difference was found when the laser and placebo groups were compared. At the 12 week evaluation, a significant sustained improvement in all parameters was observed. On intergroup evaluation, a significant improvement was observed in favor of the active treatment group regarding pain with resisted extension of the wrist, tenderness with pressure, and for both the total and subgroup scores of the DASH questionnaire and PRTEE test, as well as for the pain subgroup of the NHP questionnaire (p < 0.05).
Although low energy laser therapy had no advantage compared to placebo in patients with LE for the short term, a significant improvement, particularly in functional parameters, was achieved in the long term. Laser, which has relatively no side effects, might be included among long-term treatment options for LE.