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Is phototherapy (light therapy) of any use to treat a tendinopathy, and if so, what is the optimal phototherapy treatment (session length, type of light, etc.)?


I have read some case studies and RCTs that seem to indicate phototherapy (light therapy) is useful to treat a tendinopathy, but the tested phototherapy treatments seem to vary between studies.

Examples:

https://www.prevention.com/health/a20505854/light-therapy-for-chronic-pain/ (mirror):

Nora Miller was an avid, lifelong runner who had completed five marathons when she strained her Achilles tendon during the summer of 2014. Rather than abandon her regimen, Miller, a 42-year-old exercise physiology researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, pushed through the pain, hoping she could tough it out. But that only further inflamed the tendon, leaving her idle and frustrated with her inability to heal. "I was desperate to get back to running," Miller says. (Try these 5 strategies to boost your spirits and heal faster when you've been sidelined by a fitness injury).

She mentioned her plight to Janis Eells, a colleague in UWM's College of Health Sciences. Eells, a professor of biomedical sciences, suggested that Miller try using a handheld device that would expose her tendon to red light for 90 seconds a day, 3 out of every 4 days. "I was scheduled to have a painful platelet-rich plasma injection in 12 hours, and I canceled it," she says. "The way Janis described the research and how enthusiastic she was, I thought, Why not give it a try?"

After 2 months of using the device and going to physical therapy, Miller began a walking program that incorporated some jogging. By October, she'd run her sixth marathon, eventually qualifying for the Boston Marathon. "I don't have pain," she says, "and I'm just as active as I was before the injury."

{1}:

LLLT of different intensities seems to promote neovascularization in damaged Achilles tendons of rats after partial rupture compared to controls.

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It was concluded that treatment with LIL in the parameters used and the times studied reduces migration of inflammatory cells and improves the quality of repair while reducing the functional limitations.

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In conclusion, LLLT combined with eccentric exercises is superior to LLLT alone and eccentric exercises alone to reduce pain and improve function in patients with patellar tendinopathy.


References:

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