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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Sep 2023 - 15 Sep 2023


Human Studies, Neurobiology, Neuromodulation

Arthritis, Inflammation/Inflammatory


PLoS One




Effects of low-level laser therapy in adults with rheumatoid arthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials.


Lourinho I, Sousa T, Jardim R, Pinto AC, Iosimuta N


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory, systemic and chronic disease that mainly affects the joints. It is characterized mainly by pain, edema and joint stiffness, which can lead to significant loss of functional capacity and quality of life. Several physical therapy resources are used in the treatment of AR, such as low-level laser therapy (LLLT) and its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. However, the efficacy of LLLT in AR is still controversial. The objective of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of low-level laser therapy in adults with RA. Methods and findings: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, PEDro, LILACS, IBECS, CUMED, SCIELO and ClinicalTrials.gov. Two researchers independently selected studies, extracted data, evaluated the risk of bias and assessed the certainty of evidence using GRADE approach. Disagreements were resolved by a third author. Meta-analyses were performed. Currently available evidence was from 18 RCTs, with a total of 793 participants. We found low-quality evidence suggesting there may be no difference between using infrared laser and sham in terms of pain, morning stiffness, grip strength, functional capacity, inflammation, ROM, disease activity and adverse events. The evidence is very uncertain about the effects of red laser compared to sham in pain, morning stiffness. The evidence is also very uncertain about the effects of laser acupuncture compared to placebo in functional capacity, quality of life, range of motion and inflammation. Conclusions: Thus, infrared laser may not be superior to sham in RA patients. There is insufficient information to support or refute the effectiveness of red laser, laser acupuncture and reflexology for treating patients with RA.