Analysis of pain relief and functional recovery in patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy through therapeutic ultrasound and photobiomodulation therapy: a comparative study.

a person holds their right shoulder in pain while on an outdoor walk

by João Pedro Scaldaferri Martins, Carlos José de Lima, Adriana Barrinha Fernandes, Leandro Procópio Alves, Osmar Pinto Neto, Antonio Balbin Villaverde

Abstract: This study aimed to compare shoulder tendinopathy treatment with therapeutic ultrasound combined with LED photobiomodulation therapy using LED-infrared (850 nm) or LED-red (640 nm). The study assessed 75 patients, aged 45 to 70 years, distributed into five experimental groups (15 patients each): therapeutic ultrasound (US), infrared light irradiation (IR), visible red light irradiation (VR), infrared light and ultrasound combined (IR-US), and red light in conjunction with ultrasound (VR-US). The ultrasound parameters are 1 MHz, 0.5 W/cm2 (SATA), and 100 Hz repetition rate, applied for 4 min each session. LED irradiation protocols were as follows: 3 points, 7.5 J per point, IR-LED 750 mW, 10 s, VR-LED 250 mW, 30 s. LED irradiation is followed by ultrasound in the combined therapies. The efficiency of the five therapies was evaluated assessing 12 parameters: quality of life (Health Assessment Questionnaire, HAQ), pain intensity (Visual Analog Scale, VAS), articular amplitude of shoulder movement (flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, medial rotation, lateral rotation), muscle strength (abduction, lateral rotation), and electromyography (lateral rotation, abduction). Treatments comprised 12 sessions for 4 weeks. Intra-group analysis showed that the five therapies significantly improved the recovery of all parameters after treatment. Regarding the comparison of irradiated therapies and ultrasound, statistical analysis showed that IR-US was a better treatment than US for all 12 parameters. IR treatment exceeded US on 9 items, whereas that VR and VR-US therapies exceeded US in 7 and 10 parameters, respectively (p < 0.05). Because of that, IR-US shows to be the best treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathy.

Conclusion: In conclusion, improvements in quality of life, pain intensity relief, shoulder amplitude motion, and muscle strength force obtained with ultrasound therapy are enhanced by adding infrared LED irradiation to ultrasound for patients suffering from rotator cuff tendinopathy. This study was registered with the Brazilian Registry of Clinical Trials (ReBEC) under Universal Trial Number (UTN) U1111-1219-3594 (2018/22/08).

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