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Low-Level Laser Treatment May Help Ease Neck Pain

Study suggests relatively uncommon, non-invasive therapy can help acute and chronic cases

FRIDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Low-level laser therapy can effectively treat both acute and chronic neck pain, with benefits lasting up to 22 weeks for chronic pain, according to a study published online Nov. 13 in The Lancet.

Roberta T. Chow, of the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled trials including 820 patients to assess the efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the treatment of neck pain compared with active control or placebo.

Two of the trials showed a 69 percent greater likelihood of improvement compared to placebo when low-level laser therapy was used to treat acute neck pain, while five trials showed low-level laser therapy resulted in four-fold higher odds of improvement for treatment of chronic neck pain, the researchers found. Pain relief was felt immediately after treatment for acute pain and persisted for up to 22 weeks for chronic pain.

"These tissue effects of laser irradiation might account for the broad range of conditions that are amenable to low-level laser therapy treatment. Whether specific treatment protocols are necessary to elicit different biological mechanisms is unknown," the authors write. "Whatever the mechanism of action, clinical benefits of low-level laser therapy occur both when [it] is used as monotherapy and in the context of a regular exercise and stretching program."

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