Laser therapy may reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, according to a recent study.
Laser therapy is the use of amplified beams of light called lasers to diagnose or treat medical conditions. There are two major types of lasers, contact and noncontact, used in medicine. Contact lasers work by sending a light through a fiber or sapphire tip. The tip absorbs energy and becomes hot. When the hot tip touches any live tissue in the body, the target cells are vaporized, which is the removal of tissue through the conversion of a solid to a gas. Noncontact lasers do not touch the tissue. They operate by transferring laser light as radiant energy in a single beam to the tissue. Heat results when the cell absorbs this energy. In both cases, the laser light is not hot. Heat is only created after the laser's radiant energy is absorbed by the targeted tissue.
In a recent study, researchers randomly assigned 38 women with fibromyalgia to receive laser heat therapy treatments or sham therapy treatments twice weekly for four weeks. Each treatment lasted seven minutes and was administered on the neck, shoulders and back. Pain and fibromyalgia questionnaires were administered, and sensitivity at tender points was evaluated before and after treatment.
The researchers found that women in the laser heat therapy group experienced significant improvements in pain and upper body flexibility when compared to those who received the sham therapy. The authors noted that significant improvements in fibromyalgia scores were seen immediately after laser heat therapy treatments, while a change in scores was lacking in the sham group.
The authors concluded that laser heat therapy may reduce pain and the overall effect of fibromyalgia in women. While promising, larger scale studies are necessary to further evaluate these findings.
In addition to laser therapy, there is evidence from several studies suggesting that acupuncture may help with pain relief in fibromyalgia. Some research suggests it may also improve symptoms of fatigue and anxiety.
For more information about integrative therapies for fibromyalgia, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.
For more information about laser therapy, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.