For decades the Cold Laser / LLLT pioneers have preached to each-other about their work and published in LLLT dedicated journals. It is nice to see more LLLT being reported in other medical journals and in the main stream press. In my bi-monthly Literature Review for PMLS 30 papers were published outside the Laser press
Today Reuters Health Interviewed Jan Bjordal about a paper he co-authored and published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People with overuse injuries of the Achilles tendon may heal faster with a combination of exercise and low-level laser therapy, the results of a new study suggests.
Researchers found that among 52 active adults with Achilles tendinopathy, those treated with exercise and laser therapy for eight weeks improved more quickly than those treated with exercise therapy alone.
The findings are published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
Achilles tendinopathy is a general term for chronic, overuse injuries to the strong band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Calf-muscle exercises are a standard treatment, but the benefits are often slow to appear, and the exercises themselves can initially worsen the pain of the injury.
This is where low-level laser therapy could be helpful, according principal investigator Dr.
Jan Magnus Bjordal of Bergen University College in Norway and colleagues.
The therapy involves placing a laser probe, which emits infrared light, on various points of the skin around the Achilles tendon. There is evidence that this may both reduce inflammation in the area and stimulate the body’s natural healing process — helping to trigger the synthesis of collagen fibers in the tendon.
Bjordal and colleagues in Norway, Greece and Brazil randomly divided 52 recreational athletes with chronic Achilles tendinopathy to undergo eccentric exercise training plus laser therapy, or exercise training plus “placebo” laser therapy, in which the probe did not emit infrared energy. The patients also underwent laser therapy twice a week for four weeks, then once weekly for another four weeks.
“Eccentric” exercise refers to activities that cause a muscle to contract at the same time it is being lengthened. In this case, all of the patients performed eccentric exercises for the calf muscles four times per week for eight weeks, under supervision.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the combination therapy group reported less pain during physical activity than their counterparts. They also tended to have less morning stiffness in the ankle, less tenderness and greater flexibility in the joint.
The results suggest that laser therapy may accelerate the benefits of eccentric exercise, which is becoming the “gold standard” treatment for Achilles tendinopathy, according to Bjordal’s team.
The additional treatment “may be worth a try” for people already undergoing exercise therapy, Bjordal told Reuters Health.
Whether laser therapy will be available to those interested is another matter. In the U.S., Bjordal noted, relatively few physical therapists use low-level laser therapy, and it is generally not covered by insurance. By contrast, Norway’s health system pays for the therapy, and about one third of physical therapy clinics offer it.
Larger, longer-term studies should continue looking at laser therapy for Achilles tendinopathy, Bjordal said. As more results emerge in favor of the treatment, the researcher noted, it may become more widely used.
SOURCE: American Journal of Sports Medicine, May 2008.