Can osteoarthritis be treated with light?
Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, BAR414, 40 Blossom Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA
Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattuck Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013, 15:120 doi:10.1186/ar4354
See related research by Alves et al. http://arthritis-research.com/content/15/5/R116Published: 29 October 2013
Osteoarthritis is becoming more problematic as the population ages. Recent reports suggest that the benefit of anti-inflammatory drugs is unimpressive and the incidence of side effects is worrying. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) is an alternative approach with no known side effects and with reports of substantial therapeutic efficacy in osteoarthritis. In this issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy, Alves and colleagues used a rat model of osteoarthritis produced by intra-articular injection of the cartilage-degrading enzyme papain to test 810-nm LLLT. A single application of LLLT produced significant reductions in inflammatory cell infiltration and inflammatory cytokines 24 hours later. A lower laser power was more effective than a higher laser power. However, more work is necessary before the title question can be answered in the affirmative.