RESEARCH ARTICLE


Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) for Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Regression



Anita R Gross*, 1, Stephanie Dziengo3, Olga Boers3, Charlie H Goldsmith2, Nadine Graham1, Lothar Lilge4, Stephen Burnie3, Roger White5
1 McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
2 Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada
3 School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Physiotherapy Program, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
4 Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada and Senior Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN, Canada
5 Theralase Inc., 1945 Queen Street, East Toronto, Ontario M4L 1H7, Canada


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© Gross et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/) which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the McMaster University, 1400 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 1C7, Canada; Tel: 905-525-9149, Ext. 22867; Fax: 905-524-0069; E-mail: grossa@mcmaster.ca
§ The Cervical Overview Group is an international research group that conducts and maintains systematic reviews for neck pain.


Abstract

Purpose:

This systematic review update evaluated low level laser therapy (LLLT) for adults with neck pain.

Methods:

Computerized searches (root up to Feb 2012) included pain, function/disability, quality of life (QoL) and global perceived effect (GPE). GRADE, effect-sizes, heterogeneity and meta-regression were assessed.

Results:

Of 17 trials, 10 demonstrated high risk of bias. For chronic neck pain, there was moderate quality evidence (2 trials, 109 participants) supporting LLLT over placebo to improve pain/disability/QoL/GPE up to intermediate-term (IT). For acute radiculopathy, cervical osteoarthritis or acute neck pain, low quality evidence suggested LLLT improves ST pain/function/QoL over a placebo. For chronic myofascial neck pain (5 trials, 188 participants), evidence was conflicting; a meta-regression of heterogeneous trials suggests super-pulsed LLLT increases the chance of a successful pain outcome.

Conclusions:

We found diverse evidence using LLLT for neck pain. LLLT may be beneficial for chronic neck pain/function/QoL. Larger long-term dosage trials are needed.

Keywords: Low level laser therapy, neck pain, systematic review.