Comparing the effects of exercise program and low-level laser therapy with exercise program and polarized polychromatic non-coherent light (bioptron light) on the treatment of lateral elbow tendinopathy
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Background Data: The use of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) and polarized polychromatic non-coherent light as supplements to an exercise program has been recommended for the management of lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET). Objective: To investigate whether an exercise program supplemented with LLLT is more successful than an exercise program supplemented with polarized polychromatic non-coherent light in treating LET. Materials and Methods: Patients with unilateral LET for at least 4wk were sequentially allocated to receive either an exercise program with LLLT or an exercise program with polarized polychromatic non-coherent light. The exercise program consisted of eccentric and static stretching exercises of wrist extensors. In the LLLT group a 904-nm Ga-As laser was used in continuous mode, and the power density was 130mW/cm2, and the dose was 0.585J/point. In the group receiving polarized polychromatic non-coherent light the Bioptron 2 was used to administer the dose perpendicularly to the lateral epicondyle at three points at an operating distance of 5-10cm for 6min at each position. The outcome measures were pain and function and were evaluated at baseline, at the end of the treatment (week 4), and 3mo after the end of treatment (week 16). Results: Fifty patients met the inclusion criteria. At the end of treatment there was a decline in pain and a rise in function in both groups compared with baseline (p<0.0005 on the paired t-test). There were no significant differences in the reduction of pain and the improvement of function between the groups at the end of treatment and at the 3-mo follow-up (p>0.0005 on the independent t-test). Conclusions: The results suggest that the combination of an exercise program with LLLT or polarized polychromatic non-coherent light is an adequate treatment for patients with LET. Further research to establish the relative and absolute effectiveness of such a treatment approach is needed.