Although low level laser has only been cleared for treating acute and chronic pain, other applications are being studied.
LASER, LOW BACK PAIN AND EXERCISE
Photomed Laser Surg. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25141218#> 2014 Sep;32(9):490-4.
Effect of diode laser in the treatment of patients with nonspecific chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial.
LASER AND HAIR GROWTH
Skinmed. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25134310#> 2014 May-Jun;12(3):145-7.
Low-level laser/light therapy for androgenetic alopecia.
LASER AND MUSCLE REPAIR
Effects of Low-Level Laser Therapy on Skeletal Muscle Repair: A Systematic Review. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25122099> Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Aug 13.
Laser vs Electrical Stimulation. Which is more effective?
Nineteen trials (1249 participants – a HUGE human study) were included in this meta-analysis to see what modality was most effective: Low level laser (LLLT), electrical stimulation or exercise. LLLT was more effective than placebo and LLT plus exercise was more effective than exercise alone in terms of and function. There was no evidence that electrical stimulation (PEMF) was more or less effective than placebo, or whether other electrotherapy modalities are an effective adjunct to exercise.
Cochrane Database Syst Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Oct 1;10
Can Laser Help Diabetes?
This was a rat study, but is fascinating in showing some of the potential of LLLT. One very interesting part of this study is that the laser treated rats, who received laser acupuncture, with a longer wavelength had blood sugar that was 1/3 the level of the untreated group! In fact, the group treated with laser had better blood glucose than the group that was given medication for diabetes!
Acupunct Med. 2014 Sep 29.
Can Laser Lower Blood Pressure?
This exciting study (done by cardiologists!) treated a large group of mice by treating their tails with laser therapy. Their results showed that LLLT not only decreased their blood pressure (systolic and diastolic!) but also reduced their resting heart rate. Thus, they concluded that LLLT could be a dynamic treatment modality for patients suffering various types of heart disease.
Arq Bras Cardiol. 2014 Aug;103(2):161-4.
Can Laser Help TMJ Pain?
Dentists, medical doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists all commonly see patients with jaw and face pain. This meta-analysis with over 250 human patients studied whether or not laser could help this stubborn problem. The researchers found that LLLT provided a significant reduction in both muscle and joint pain of the TMJ. The results were not only significant, but the pain relieving effects were dramatic!
J Phys Ther Sci. 2014 Aug;26(8):1297-300.
Bye Bye Baldness!
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in men and in women. Currently, minoxidil and finasteride are the treatments with the highest levels of medical evidence, but patients who exhibit intolerance or poor response to these treatments are in need of additional treatment modalities. This study looked at 32 human patients who were treated with LLLT or with the common baldness medications. Of the 32 patients (21 female, 11 male), 8 showed significant, and 20 showed moderate improvement! Improvement was seen both with LLLT alone and with LLLT plus medication. Improvement was observed as early as 3 months and was sustained up to a maximum observation time of 24 months. LLLT represents an effective treatment for baldness by itself or in combination with minoxidil, and finasteride.
Int J Trichology. 2014 Apr;6(2):45-9.
Goodbye Muscle Pain
Patients with myofascial pain were randomly divided into three groups which included exercise or exercise with either LLLT or electrical stimulation. All of the groups were somewhat improved, but the pain relief and range of motion effects were significantly better when laser or electrical stimulation were combine with stretching exercises.
J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2014 Jul 24.
Severe, Life Threatening Jaw Erosion
Many osteoporosis medications have been found to cause a severe erosion of the jaw called bisphosphonate related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) which can be life threatening. Eleven human patients diagnosed with Stage II or III lesions were included in the study. All patients received LLLT applications during the postoperative period in addition to medical and surgical treatment. Treatment of advanced BRONJ lesions with a combination of antibiotic therapy, and consecutive low-level diode laser applications provided favorable results in all patients. The researchers condluded that LLLT is a safe and effective adjunct to medical-surgical treatment of BRONJ lesions.
Photomed Laser Surg. 2014 Aug;32(8):468-75.
Low-level Laser Therapy and Severe Facial Pain.
Tri-geminal neuralgia is a pain passes through nerve's branches and its trigger is located in skin or mucosa that could lead to pain with a trigger stimulus. The pain involved branches of trigeminal nerve that sometimes has patients to seek the treatment for several years.This meta-analysis concluded that laser therapy was associated with significant reduction in the intensity and frequency of pain compared with other treatment strategies. They concluded that LLLT should be considered in treatment of trigeminal neuralgia since it appears to be effective and is without any side effects.
J Dent Res Dent Clin Dent Prospects. 2014 Winter;8(1):1-5.