For patients suffering from OA, Low Level Laser Therapy may be a useful adjunct therapy to medication. Several studies have looked into the effect of LLLT on osteoarthritis and demonstrated that LLLT can benefit people with OA. In particular, LLLT has been found to increase joint flexibility and range of motion.
Three studies listed in the PubMed database illustrate the benefits of LLLT for OA. The first was published in February 2011, in Arthritis Research and Therapy. This study was a systematic review of rehabilitation interventions for OA in the hands. Interventions covered included: exercise, laser, heat, splints, massage and acupuncture. This review found that there was some evidence for LLLT improving range of motion, but that there were not enough studies available to make a conclusive determination.
A second study, published in Photochemistry and Photobiology in January 2012, examined the effects of LLLT at wavelengths between 660 and 808 nm in animal models of osteoarthritis. The study induced cartiege injury in 36 rats and divided them into three groups. One was treated with InGaAlP (660 nm, 100 mW, 3.57 W cm(-2), 40 s), one with AsGaAl (808 nm, 100 mW, 3.57 W cm(-2), 40 s) both with energy of 4 J. The third group was an untreated control. This study found that laser therapy at 808 nm reduced the development of fibrosis and stimulated angiogenesis.
The most recent study examined LLLT in combination with exercise as a treatment for knee OA. This study was published in June 2012 in Clinical Rehabilitation. The study was a randomized double blind trial comparing the effects of LLLT and exercise with a placebo laser and exercise. Participants who received LLLT and exercise showed significant improvement in measures of pain, range of motion, function and activity.
For guidelines on treating arthritis with LLLT see this guide: LLLT dosage guidelines for treating arthritis pain