Clinical and functional evaluation of patients with acute low back pain and radiculopathy treated with different energy doses of low level laser therapy


The main clinical phenomena in acute low back pain (LBP) with radiculopathy are pain and neurological disorders. Although some studies show that low level laser therapy (LLLT) has the ability to modulate inflammatory processes and relieve acute pain condition, the laser therapy dose protocol has not been yet completely established. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of three different energy doses of LLLT in patients with acute LBP and radiculopathy.


The study included 66 patients with acute LBP and radiculopathy who had been randomly divided into three groups (22 patients each) received three different doses of LLLT. The patients were treated 5 times weekly, for a total of 10 treatments, with the following parameters: wave length 904 nm, frequency 3,000 Hz, average diode power 25 mW; energy dose of 0.1 J per point in the first group, 1 J per point in the second and 4 J per point in the third group; daily treatment time and accumulated energy were 16 s and 0.4 J in the first group, 160 s and 4J in the second group and 640 s and 16 J in the third group, respectively. The parameters of assessment before and after the therapy were: lumbar and leg pain measured by visual analogue scale (VAS), local and general functional changes (Schober test, manual muscle test, straight leg raise test and the modified North American Spine Society-Low Back Pain Outcome Instrument-NASS LBP).


Highly significant improvements (p < 0.01) were noted in all the groups after LLLT with respect to all the investigated parameters. The VAS scores were significantly lower in all the groups without a difference between the groups (p > 0,05). Functional improvements were better in the third group treated with the dose of 4 J per point than in other two groups (p < 0.05).


Three different energy doses of LLLT were equally effective in alleviating lumbar and leg pain without side effects, but the dose of 4 J per point seemed to be more effective in improving the activities of daily living and lumbar mobility.