Background: Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is used in the treatment of tendon injuries. However, the clinical effectiveness of this modality remains controversial with limited agreement on the most efficacious dosage and parameter choices.
Purpose: To assess the clinical effectiveness of LLLT in the treatment of tendinopathy and the validity of current dosage recommendations for treatment.
Method: Medical databases were searched from inception to 1st August 2008. Controlled clinical trials evaluating LLLT as a primary intervention for any tendinopathy were included in the review. Methodological quality was classified using the PEDro scale. Appropriateness of treatment parameters were assessed using established guidelines.
Results: Twenty five trials met the inclusion criteria. There was conflicting findings from multiple trials: 12 showed positive effects and 13 were inconclusive or showed no effect. Dosages used in the 12 positive studies support the existence of an effective dosage window that closely resembled current guidelines. Where pooling of data was possible, LLLT showed a positive effect size; in high quality studies of lateral epicondylitis, participants’ grip strength was 9.59 Kg higher than the control group; for participants with Achilles tendinopathy, the effect was 13.6 mm less pain on a 100 mm visual analogue scale.
Conclusion: This study found conflicting evidence as to the effectiveness of LLLT in the treatment of tendinopathy. However, an effective dosage window emerged showing benefit in the treatment of tendinopathy. Strong evidence exists from the 12 positive studies that positive outcomes are associated with the use of current dosage recommendations for the treatment of tendinopathy.
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