The use of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in the treatment of trigger points that are associated with rotator cuff tendonitis
The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of LLLT in the treatment of trigger points (TrPs) that are associated with rotator cuff tendonitis. A double-blind randomized controlled trail was conducted. Sixty patients were randomly allocated to one of two groups: sham or laser therapy. The laser (Excel, Omega Universal Technologies Ltd, London, UK) parameters used were a wavelength of 820 nm, a power output of 100 mW, a frequency of 5000 Hz (modulated) and energy density of 32 J/cm2. The two groups received a course of 12 treatment sessions for four weeks (3 sessions per week). Pain, functional activities (as measured using the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index, SPADI), pressure pain threshold (PPT) and range of motion (ROM) were assessed pre and post treatment, with a three month follow-up assessment. Significant improvements in pain (p < 0.001) were observed for the laser group (6 cm median improvement on a 10 cm VAS) compared to the sham group (2 cm median improvement) immediately post treatment. The improvements in the laser group continued post treatment with a 7 cm median improvement observed at three month follow-up. Similar between group differences were observed for ROM (p < 0.01), functional activities (p <= 0.001) and PPT (p <= 0.05). The findings of the current study suggested that LLLT is effective in treating patients with TrPs associated with rotator cuff tendonitis, when using the parameters described. However, the mechanism of its action is not yet clear, and will require further investigation.