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Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2011 Sep;47(3):367-73. Epub 2011 Jun 8.

Short-term effects of high-intensity laser therapy versus ultrasound therapy in the treatment of low back pain: a randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.



Low back pain (LBP) is a common musculoskeletal disorder that is highly prevalent in the general population. Management of this pathology includes numerous interventions depending on pain severity: analgesic, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections. However, the effect size and duration of symptom relief are limited. Physical therapy (ultrasound [US], laser therapy, manual therapy, interferential current therapy, Back School, aerobic work, therapeutic aquatic exercise acupuncture) have been reported often with mixed results.


To evaluate the short-term effectiveness of high-intensity laser therapy (HILT) versus ultrasound (US) therapy in the treatment of LBP.


Randomized clinical trial.


University hospital.


Thirty patients with LBP were randomly assigned to a HILT group or a US therapy group.


Study participants received fifteen treatment sessions of HILT or US therapy over a period of three consecutive weeks (five days/week).


For the 30 study participants there were no between-group differences at baseline in Visual Analogic Scale (VAS) and Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire (OLBPDQ) scores. At the end of the 3-week intervention, participants in the HILT group showed a significantly greater decrease in pain (measured by the VAS) and an improvement of related disability (measured by the OLBPDQ) compared with the group treated with US therapy.


Our findings obtained after 15 treatment sessions with the experimental protocol suggested greater effectiveness of HILT than of US therapy in the treatment of LBP, proposing HILT as a promising new therapeutic option into the rehabilitation of LBP.

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