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The Effects of Laser Therapy in the Early Stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis Onset

C. Ailioaie, M. D.

Medical Office for Laser Therapy, Iassy, RO
Laura Marinela Lupusoru-Ailioaie, M. D.
“Al.I.Cuza” University, Dept. of Medical Physics, Iassy, RO


To study the effects of laser therapy, in comparison with other modality trials (NSAIDs), at the onset of (RA).


In the study 59 patients were included, in the first 6 – 12 months from RA onset. The patients were divided into three groups: Group 1 (21 patients) received laser therapy; Group 2 (18 patients) was submitted to placebo laser therapy and NSAIDs medication; Group 3 (20 patients) was treated only with NSAIDs. Physical therapy was instituted in all three groups.

A GaAIAs diode laser (830 nm, maximum output power 200 mW) was used. During 4 months, courses of laser therapy – once daily for 8 days, monthly – were administered to Group 1 and laser placebo Group 2. The density of energy (2 – 4 J/cm2) and frequency (5 Hz or 10 Hz) were dependent on the number and severity of pain in affected joints.


The analysis of the clinical and biological parameters at the end of treatment showed a statistical significant decrease of duration of morning stiffness of pain at rest and during movements and improved acute phase reactants. The overall efficacy rate in these studies was 86% in group 1, 50% in the placebo laser group, and 40% in group 3.


After 4 months of treatment, our investigations showed that infra-red laser therapy was able to restore function, to relieve pain and to avoid the complications of the disease or NSAIDs therapy (digestive or renal) at RA onset,beeing the most perspective modality of treatment.

The effect of laser therapy in complex treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Korolkova O M et al.

115 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) of II-III degrees were treated with basic RA medications and infrared laser. In a control group of 20 patients only basic medication was given. 10 areas of the body were irradiated daily, increasing the dose every day during a period of 8-10 days. The effectiveness of the therapy was controlled through laboratory tests on i.a. inflammatory agents and the activity of lipid peroxidation. The results were statistically significant. The best effect was found in patients with degree II RA. Steroid medication could be reduced 8-10 days earlier in this group of patients and in some cases the medication could even be excluded. Degree III patients had a more moderate benefit of the laser treatment.

The interauricular laser therapy of rheumatoid arthritis.

Sidorov-V-D, Mamiliaeva-D-R, Gontar-E-V, Reformatskaia-SIu.Vopr-Kurortol-Fizioter-Lech-Fiz-Kult. 1999; (3): 35-43.

Investigations have proved the ability of interauricular low- intensity infrared laser therapy (0.89 nm, 7.6 J/cm) to produce anti- inflammatory,immunomodulating action in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The method has selective, pathogenetically directed immunomodulating effect the mechanism of which is similar to that of basic antirheumatic drugs and of intravenous laser radiation of blood. This laser therapy can be used as an alternative to intravenous blood radiation being superior as a noninvasive method.Interauricular laser therapy can potentiate the effects of nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs, cytostatics and diminish their side effects.


Kanji Asada, Yasutaka Yutani, Akira Sakawa and Akira Shimazu. DepartmentofOrthopaedic Surgery, Osaka City UniversityMedical School, Japan

The authors have been involved in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), in particular chronic poly-arthritis and the associated pain complaints. The biggest problem facing such patients is joint contracture, leading to bony ankylosis. This in turn severely restricts the range of motion (ROM) of the RA-affected joints, thereby seriously restricting the patient’s quality of life (QOL). The authors have determined that in these cases, daily rehabilitation practice is necessary to maintain the patient’s QOL at a reasonable level. The greatest problem in the rehabilitation practice is the severe pain associated with RA-affected joints, which inhibits restoration of mobility and improved ROM. LLLT or low reactive level laser therapy has been recognized in the literature as having been effective in pain removal and attenuation. The authors accordingly designed a clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of LLLT in RA related pain (subjective self-assessment) and ROM improvement (objective documented data). From July 1988 to June 1990, 170 patients with a total of 411 affected joints were treated using a GaAlAs diode laser system (830 nm, 60 mW C/W). Patients mean age was 61 years, with a ratio of males: females of 1: 5.25 (16%: 84%). Effectiveness was graded under three categories: excellent (remarkable improvement), good (clearly apparent improvement), and unchanged (little or no improvement). For pain attenuation, scores were: excellent&emdash;59.6%; good&emdash;30.4%; unchanged&emdash;10%. For ROM improvement the scores were: excellent&emdash;12.6%; good&emdash;43.7%; unchanged&emdash;43.7%. This gave a total effective rating for pain attenuation of 90%, and for ROM improvement of 56.3%.


Goldman JA, Chiapella J, Casey H, Bass N, Graham J, McClatcheyW, Dronavalli RV, Brown R, Bennett WJ, Miller SB, Wilson CH, Pearson B, Haun C, Persinski L, Huey H, MuckerheideM

Thirty people with classical or definite rheumatoid arthritis received laser exposure to a Q- switch neodymium laser that operated at 1.06 micrometer with an output of 15 joules/cm2 for 30 nsec. One hand was lased attheproximalinterphalangeal (PIP) and metacarpal phalangeal (MCP) joints, whereas the other hand was sham lased. The patient, physician, and occupational therapy evaluators did not know which hand was being lased. Twenty- one patients noted improvement of both their MCP and PIP joints of both hands during laser therapy. Twenty-seven noted improvement of their PIP joints and 26 noted improvement of the MCP joints during therapy. Heat, erythema, pain, swelling, and tenderness all improved with time in both hands, but the lased hand had more significant improvement in erythema and pain. There was also significant improvement in grasp and tip pressure on the lased side. The level of circulating immune complexes as measured by platelet aggregation decreased during lasing. The improvement may be related to laser exposure. The exact role that laser radiation has upon rheumatoid arthritis and its mechanism of action remain.


Judit OrtutayM.D., Klara Barabas M.D., Ph.D., *Adam Mester MD National Institute of Rheumatology and Physiotherapy, Budapest *Semmelweis University, Faculty of Medicine, Dept. of Diagnostic Radiology and Oncotherapy, National Laser Therapy Centre, Peterfy Sandor Teaching Hospital, Budapest .

Barabas irradiated first the joints of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients without skin ulcer. In the first open study objectively the range of motion and circumference of the treated joints were measured, Ritchie index as semiobjective parameter, subjective parameters as joint tenderness and pain on a visual analogous scale (VAS) were registered. The walking time was registered as a functional disability parameter. Laboratory activity parameters and the 99mTechnetium index was measured. The second part of the clinical study was double blinded, Infra Red (10mWand 100 mW) lasers were used versus dummy devices with the same outlook. The third part of the study were in vitro experiments. Synovial membranes of rheumatoid arthritis patients The DNA/RNA ratio of the RA group was compared to the control group. Significant difference was detected between the two groups. The fourth phase of clinical studies was to detect the effects of laser irradiation in other rheumatic diseases: psoriatic arthritis,sacroileitis, osteoarthritis, entesopathy, tenosynovitis, bursitis calcarea, fibromyalgia, localised muscle spasm, periarthritis humeroscapularis etc. The different wavelengths (604, 630, 660, 670, 690, 750, 780, 790, 820, 830, 904, 1053, 1219 nm,) were compared (30 – 100 mW) with other physiotherapy modalities, like ultrasound. Acknowledgement: The Central Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and LASOTRONIC AG (Switzerland) was helping the research.

Low level laser therapy (classes I, II and III) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Brosseau L, Welch V, Wells G, deBie R, Gam A, Harman K, Morin M, Shea B,Tugwell P. School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H-8M5.

BACKGROUND: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects a large proportion of the population. Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) was introduced as an alternative non-invasive treatment for RA about 10 years ago. LLLT is a light source that generates extremely pure light, of a single wavelength. The effect is not thermal, but rather related to photochemical reactions in the cells. The effectivenessofLLLT for rheumatoid arthritis is still controversial.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of LLLT in the treatment of RA.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, the registries of the Cochrane Musculoskeletal group and the field of Rehabilitation and Related Therapies as well as the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register up to January 30, 2000.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Following an a priori protocol, we selected only randomized controlled trials of LLLT for the treatment of patients with a clinical diagnosis of RA were eligible. Abstracts were excluded unless further data could be obtained from the authors.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently select trials for inclusion, then extracted data and assessed quality using predetermined forms. Heterogeneity was tested with Cochran’s Q test. A fixed effects model was used throughout for continuous variables, except where heterogeneity existed, in which case, a random effects model was used. Results were analyzed as weighted mean differences (WMD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI), where the difference between the treated and control groups was weighted by the inverse of the variance. Standardized mean differences (SMD) were calculated by dividing the difference between treated and control by the baseline variance. SMD were used when different scales were used to measure the same concept (e.g. pain). Dichotomous outcomes were analyzed with odds ratios.

MAIN RESULTS: A total of 204 patients were included in the five placebo-controlled trials, with 112 randomized to laser therapy. Relative to a separate control group, LLLT reduced pain by 70% relative to placebo and reduced morning stiffness duration by 27.5 minutes (95%CI: 2.9 to 52 minutes) and increased tip to palm flexibility by 1.3 cm (95% CI: 0. 8 to 1.7 cm). Other outcomes such as functional assessment, range of motion and local swelling did not differ between groups. There were no significant differences between subgroups based on LLLT dosage, wavelength, site of application or treatment length. For RA, relative to a control group using the opposite hand, there was no difference between the control and treatment hand, but all hands improved in terms of pain relief and disease activity.

REVIEWER’S CONCLUSIONS: In summary, LLLT for RA is beneficial as a minimum of a four- week treatment with reductions in pain and morning stiffness. On the one hand, this meta- analysis found that pooled data gave some evidence of a clinical effect, but the outcomes were in conflict, and it must therefore be concluded that firm documentation of the application of LLLT in RA is not possible. Clinicians and researchers should consistently report the characteristics of the LLLT device and the application techniques used. New trials on LLLT should make use of standardized, validated outcomes. Despite some positive findings, this meta-analysis lacked data on how LLLT effectiveness is affected by four important factors: wavelength, treatment duration of LLLT, dosage and site of application over nerves instead of joints.


O.M. Korolkova, V.T. Burlachuk, O.V. Gordienko, E.A. Afanasevskaya Voronezh State Medical Academy, Voronezh Regional Hospital, Voronezh, Russia

The purpose of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of laser therapy among patients with different extents of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease. There has been a study of 115 patients with RA activity II-III (the main group) who apart from the basic therapy also received laser treatment.
The apparatus ALT “Mustang” with the power of 2-10 W and infrared wave range has been used. The laser influence has been aimed at the area of a damaged joint. The duration of laser influence is from 5 to 17 minutes, adding 1-2 minutes daily. The number of fields is 10, the number of treatment procedures -8-10, The control group consists of 20 patients with RA (basic therapy only).

The control of effectiveness of the therapy was based on the complex laboratory data, including definition of non-specific factors of inflammation and the factors of activity of lipid peroxidation.
The greatest effect of the therapy has been achieved in the main group of patients with activity II. In comparison with the control group we managed to receive improve-ment 8- 10 days earlier which allowed us to reduce the demand of steroids and in case of 20 patients even cancel taking them. We received statistically reliable fall of the activity of inflammation andlipidperoxidation. More moderate effect of the therapy was reached treating patients from the main group with activity III.


Y.L. Grinstein, S.V. Ivlev Medical Academy. Krasnoyarsk, Russia

The purpose of this work was to study the opportunity of the use ofsupravascular blood radiation with infrared laser (IR-laser) for the treatment of secondaryvasculitis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The investigation included 12 patients with RA and secondary vasculitis signs. They received a course ofsupravascular blood radiation with IR-Iaser (wavelength 820-850 nm, 7-10 procedures). Control group consisted of 8 patients. Placebo laser therapy (LT) was administered to 7 patients. Such characteristics as hemostasis properties, a state of microcirculation in bulbar conjunctiva vessels were studied in all patients before and after treatment. It was revealed significant decrease of both XIIa-depended fibrinolysis and Willibrand’s factor level. The improvement of blood rheological properties was confirmed by a decrease of erythrocyte aggregation and improvement of its deformability.

Bulbarconjunctivalmicroscopia revealed significant diminution of intravascular change index, significant increase of arteriola-venula ratio. The improvement of nephritis manifestations (significant decrease of proteinuria level). The changesofhemostasis parameters microcirculation system were not significant in patients receiving both placebo LT and conventional therapy. Conclusions: 1) It was revealed significant diminution of endothelium lesion andXIla-dependedfibrinolysis restoration after IR-laser therapy in patients with RA and secondaryvasculitis. 2) Both microcirculation state in bulbar conjunctiva vessels and blood rheological properties significantly improve after IR-laser therapy. It is confirmed by a significant improvement of erythrocytedeformability and a decrease of its aggregation. 3) IR-laser therapy leads to urinary syndrome regression.


A.V. Nikitin, V.D. Khvan, E.F. Yevstratova Medical Academy, Voronezh, Russia

The results of the examination of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have shown the systemic lesion of all the links of the immune system. Many-sided positive in-fluence of low energy laser irradiation on the impairment of immune homeostasis has been shown. The aim of the investigation was to study the possibility of the low energy laser irradiation use in patients with RA depending on some immunity indices and the disease course prognosis.

60 patients with RA at the age of more than 16 years old hav-ing inflammatory process activity of the I-II degrees according to the RA criteria of the American Rheumatological Association classification have been examined. 30 patients of the control group underwent the conventional treatment with non-steroid antiinflammatory drugs, basic treatment with delagil and physiotherapy. 30 patients of the main group underwent the conventional treatment and laser therapy on the joints by the infra-red laser installation “UZOR” with the wavelength of 0,89 um, the output power of 2 mW in combination with the above-vein blood irradiation by the helium-neon laser installation “ALOK-1” with the output power of 0,6 mW. The treatment was carried out daily during 15 days.

The immunity indices analysis before and after the treatment in both groups has established their obvious improvement in patients treated by laser irradiation: T- lympocytes (CD3 (p < 0.05), immunoglobulins ? (p < 0.05), T-helpers inductors (CD4+) (p < 0.05). The positive dynamics of the immunity indices in the studied group cor-related with the clinical improvement of the patients condition and depended on the marked immunity indices changes before the treatment, such as T-lymphocytes (CD3), Thelpers inductors (CD4+), immunoglobulins C. The marked positive dynamics of the abo- vementioned indices were not observed in the control group. 

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