Is low-level laser therapy effective in acute or chronic low back pain?
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The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) on pain and functional capacity in patients with acute and chronic low back pain caused by lumbar disk herniation (LDH). LLLT has been used to treat acute and chronic pain of musculoskeletal system disorders. This study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Forty patients with acute (26 females/14 males) and 40 patients with chronic (20 females/20 males) low back pain caused by LDH were included in the study. Patients were randomly allocated into four groups. Group 1 (acute LDH, n=20) received hot-pack + laser therapy; group 2 (chronic LDH, n=20) received hot-pack + laser therapy; group 3 (acute LDH, n=20) received hot-pack + placebo laser therapy, and group 4 (chronic LDH, n=20) received hot-pack + placebo laser therapy, for 15 sessions during 3 weeks. Assessment parameters included pain, patients' global assessment, physician's global assessment, and functional capacity. Pain was evaluated by visual analog scale (VAS) and Likert scale. Patients' and physician's global assessment were also measured with VAS. Modified Schober test and flexion and lateral flexion measures were used in the evaluation of range of motion (ROM) of lumbar spine. Roland Disability Questionnaire (RDQ) and Modified Oswestry Disability Questionnaire (MODQ) were used in the functional evaluation. Measurements were done before and after 3 weeks of treatment. After the treatment, there were statistically significant improvements in pain severity, patients' and physician's global assessment, ROM, RDQ scores, and MODQ scores in all groups (p<0.05). However, no significant differences were detected between four treatment groups with respect to all outcome parameters (p>0.05). There were no differences between laser and placebo laser treatments on pain severity and functional capacity in patients with acute and chronic low back pain caused by LDH.