The effect of high-intensity laser therapy on pain and lower extremity function in patellofemoral pain syndrome: a single-blind randomized controlled trial

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Lasers in Medical Science, vol.39, no.1, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 39 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10103-024-04017-y
  • Journal Name: Lasers in Medical Science
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Aerospace Database, BIOSIS, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CINAHL, Communication Abstracts, MEDLINE
  • Keywords: Laser therapy, Pain, Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), Quadriceps muscle, Range of motion
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a set of symptoms that negatively affect the daily life activities of the individual, leading to functional disability and significant loss of labor, especially in young adults. PFPS is usually due to weakness of the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO) resulting in abnormal patellar tracking and pain. Our study aims to compare the efficacy of high-intensity laser therapy (HILT) on pain and lower extremity function in the treatment of PFPS with different electrophysical agents (EPAs). The study was designed as a single-blind randomized controlled trial. Forty-five people with PFPS (aged 25–45 years) were included in the study. The patients were randomly divided into three groups and a total of ten sessions of treatment were administered to all three groups for 2 weeks, 5 days a week. High-intensity laser (HILT) and exercise program were applied to group 1. Ultrasound (US), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and exercise program were applied to group 2. In group 3, US, interferential current (IFC), and exercise program were applied. Both groups underwent three evaluations: pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 12 weeks after treatment. Outcome measures included the visual analog scale for pain severity (VAS), knee flexion range of motion (FROM), Q angle, pain threshold, muscle strength of quadriceps and hamstring, Kujala patellofemoral scoring, lower extremity functional scale (LEFS), and Timed Up and Go Test (TUG). The ANOVA was used for comparing the data of the groups, and two-way repeated measure ANOVA was used to compare at the pre-post and post-intervention 3rd month. The LSD and Bonferroni post hoc tests were also used to identify the between-group differences. Groups 2 and 3 were statistically effective in pain and functionality (p < 0.05). Group 1 was found to be statistically more effective than other groups in reducing pain (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.000/0.000; p = 0.000), increasing knee flexion angle (95% CI, 127.524/135.809; p = 0.000), and increasing lower extremity function (95% CI, 75.970/79.362; p = 0.000). This study indicated that high-intensity laser therapy was found to be a more effective method in the treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome after 3 months of follow-up compared to US-TENS combination and US-interferential current combination treatments. Also, HILT can be used as an effective method in combination with an appropriate exercise program including vastus medialis strengthening to reduce pain and increase functionality in the patients with PFPS.