New 'ultralaser' treatment reduces pain for fibromyalgia patients

Fibromyalgia patients experienced significant pain reduction thanks to a new device that uses both ultrasound and laser therapy to help treat the disease, according to a pilot study published in the Journal of Novel Physiotherapies.

A research team with the Optics and Photonics Research Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, recently conducted the study to evaluate and compare the effects of a prototype device that combine ultrasound and laser therapy treatments. Fibromyalgia, causing muscle and joint pain and fatigue, is currently treated with anti-flammatory drugs and analgesics.

The prototype was developed by the Laboratory of Technological Support at the Institute of Physics of Sao Carlos. According to the study, the concept for the device “allows the ultrasonic emission and light energy to occur, resulting in concomitant application and overlapping of the ultrasonic and luminous fields.”

Researchers studied 48 women who each had a clinical diagnosis of fibromyalgia, who were separated into six groups of eight. According a press release, three groups received the laser or ultrasound treatments separately or a combination of both in the tender point (located in region of the trapezius muscle). The other three groups received treatments on only their palms.

During the pilot study, researchers compared responses to the treatments using conventional methods and ultralaser treatment on both the tender point and palms.

“The results showed that treatment involving application to the palms was more effective regardless of the technique, but the laser-ultrasound combination significantly improved the patients' condition,” the release said. “A comparison of the groups showed a difference of 57.72 percent in functionality improvement and of 63.31 percent in pain reduction for the ultrasound-laser group in the case of application to the trapezius. Ultrasound-laser application to the palms produced a 73.37 percent difference in pain reduction compared with application to the trapezius.”

According to researchers, the pilot study revealed a new therapeutic option to improve the quality of life for fibromyalgia patients.

“The application of the palms treatment, in relation to the traditional protocols, shows a new and effective possibility of treatment for fibromyalgia, not depending on chemical treatment and avoiding patient exposure to pain,” the study concluded. “Through the results of the present study, the treatment of fibromyalgia presents not only a new perspective but a new non-pharmacological reality that can greatly improve patients’ quality of life.”