Low-Level Laser Therapy for Patients with Subacromial Impingement Syndrome: A Literature Review

Document Type : Review Articles


1 MSc Student, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Medical Science, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

2 PhD, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Medical Science, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

3 Physical Therapist, SonoSkills Institute, Roermond, The Netherlands

4 Orthopedic Surgeon, Atiye Hospital, Tehran, Iran



Introduction: Painful entrapment of subacromial structures versus the choraco-acromial arch is defined as subacromial impingement syndrome (SAIS). Many studies have been done on the use of low-level laser in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. However, as the results of the studies are controversial, this study reviewed the results of studies on the effect of low-level laser on the pain and function of patients with subacromial impingement syndrome.Materials and Methods: PubMed, Scopus, Elsevier, Science Direct, ProQuest, and Medline databases were searched to retrieve clinical trials in English language that were published during the years 2000-2019. The keywords were as shoulder, subacromial impingement syndrome, and low-level laser.Results: Using the keywords, initially 200 articles were obtained, out of which, 7 clinical trials in English language that met the inclusion criteria were evaluated.Conclusion: Studies showed that low-level laser was an effective modality for reducing pain and improving the function in subjects with subacromial impingement syndrome.


  1. Pope DP, Croft PR, Pritchard CM, Silman AJ. Prevalence of shoulder pain in the community: The influence of case definition. Ann Rheum Dis 1997; 56(5): 308-12.
  2. Picavet HS, Schouten JS. Musculoskeletal pain in the Netherlands: Prevalences, consequences and risk groups, the DMC(3)-study. Pain 2003; 102(1-2): 167-78.
  3. Urwin M, Symmons D, Allison T, Brammah T, Busby H, Roxby M, et al. Estimating the burden of musculoskeletal disorders in the community: The comparative prevalence of symptoms at different anatomical sites, and the relation to social deprivation. Ann Rheum Dis 1998; 57(11): 649-55.
  4. Michener LA, Walsworth MK, Burnet EN. Effectiveness of rehabilitation for patients with subacromial impingement syndrome: A systematic review. J Hand Ther 2004; 17(2): 152-64.
  5. Feleus A, Bierma-Zeinstra SM, Miedema HS, Bernsen RM, Verhaar JA, Koes BW. Incidence of non-traumatic complaints of arm, neck and shoulder in general practice. Man Ther 2008; 13(5): 426-33.
  6. Bingol U, Altan L, Yurtkuran M. Low-power laser treatment for shoulder pain. Photomed Laser Surg 2005; 23(5): 459-64.
  7. van der Windt DA, Koes BW, Boeke AJ, Deville W, De Jong BA, Bouter LM. Shoulder disorders in general practice: Prognostic indicators of outcome. Br J Gen Pract 1996; 46(410): 519-23.
  8. van der Windt DA, Koes BW, De Jong BA, Bouter LM. Shoulder disorders in general practice: incidence, patient characteristics, and management. Ann Rheum Dis 1995; 54(12): 959-64.
  9. Senbursa G, Baltaci G, Atay A. Comparison of conservative treatment with and without manual physical therapy for patients with shoulder impingement syndrome: A prospective, randomized clinical trial. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2007; 15(7): 915-21.
  10. Nygren A, Berglund A, von KM. Neck-and-shoulder pain, an increasing problem. Strategies for using insurance material to follow trends. Scand J Rehabil Med Suppl 1995; 32: 107-12.
  11. Beaton DE, Richards RR. Measuring function of the shoulder. A cross-sectional comparison of five questionnaires. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1996; 78(6): 882-90.
  12. Gartsman GM, Brinker MR, Khan M, Karahan M. Self-assessment of general health status in patients with five common shoulder conditions. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 1998; 7(3): 228-37.
  13. Neer CS. Anterior acromioplasty for the chronic impingement syndrome in the shoulder: A preliminary report. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1972; 54(1): 41-50.
  14. Fu FH, Harner CD, Klein AH. Shoulder impingement syndrome. A critical review. Clin Orthop Relat Res 1991; (269): 162-73.
  15. Bigliani LU, Levine WN. Subacromial impingement syndrome. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1997; 79(12): 1854-68.
  16. Budoff JE, Nirschl RP, Guidi EJ. Debridement of partial-thickness tears of the rotator cuff without acromioplasty. Long-term follow-up and review of the literature. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1998; 80(5): 733-48.
  17. Cholewinski JJ, Kusz DJ, Wojciechowski P, Cielinski LS, Zoladz MP. Ultrasound measurement of rotator cuff thickness and acromio-humeral distance in the diagnosis of subacromial impingement syndrome of the shoulder. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2008; 16(4): 408-14.
  18. Faber E, Kuiper JI, Burdorf A, Miedema HS, Verhaar JA. Treatment of impingement syndrome: a systematic review of the effects on functional limitations and return to work. J Occup Rehabil 2006; 16(1): 7-25.
  19. Koester MC, George MS, Kuhn JE. Shoulder impingement syndrome. Am J Med 2005; 118(5): 452-5.
  20. Santamato A, Solfrizzi V, Panza F, Tondi G, Frisardi V, Leggin BG, et al. Short-term effects of high-intensity laser therapy versus ultrasound therapy in the treatment of people with subacromial impingement syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Phys Ther 2009; 89(7): 643-52.
  21. Kreisler M, Christoffers AB, Willershausen B, d'Hoedt B. Effect of low-level GaAlAs laser irradiation on the proliferation rate of human periodontal ligament fibroblasts: an in vitro study. J Clin Periodontol 2003; 30(4): 353-8.
  22. Ravanbod R, Torkaman G, Esteki A. Comparison between pulsed ultrasound and low level laser therapy on experimental haemarthrosis. Haemophilia 2013; 19(3): 420-5.
  23. Rezaeian ZS, Torkaman G, Esteki A, Sabbaghian A, Ravanbod R. 486 Effects of low power laser therapy on articular cartilage biomechanics in an experimental model of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2011; 19(Suppl 1): S225-S226.
  24. Hamblin M, Demidova T. Mechanisms of low level light therapy. Proc SPIE 2006; 6140: 1-12.
  25. Kelle B, Kozanoglu E. Low-level laser and local corticosteroid injection in the treatment of subacromial impingement syndrome: Acontrolled clinical trial. Clin Rehabil 2014; 28(8): 762-71.
  26. Abrisham SM, Kermani-Alghoraishi M, Ghahramani R, Jabbari L, Jomeh H, Zare M. Additive effects of low-level laser therapy with exercise on subacromial syndrome: a randomised, double-blind, controlled trial. Clin Rheumatol 2011; 30(10): 1341-6.
  27. Bal A, Eksioglu E, Gurcay E, Gulec B, Karaahmet O, Cakci A. Low-level laser therapy in subacromial impingement syndrome. Photomed Laser Surg 2009; 27(1): 31-6.
  28. Yavuz F, Duman I, Taskaynatan MA, Tan AK. Low-level laser therapy versus ultrasound therapy in the treatment of subacromial impingement syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil 2014; 27(3): 315-20.
  29. Dogan SK, Ay S, Evcik D. The effectiveness of low laser therapy in subacromial impingement syndrome: A randomized placebo controlled double-blind prospective study. Clinics (Sao Paulo) 2010; 65(10): 1019-22.
  30. Yeldan I, Cetin E, Ozdincler AR. The effectiveness of low-level laser therapy on shoulder function in subacromial impingement syndrome. Disabil Rehabil 2009; 31(11): 935-40.
  31. Calis HT, Berberoglu N, Calis M. Are ultrasound, laser and exercise superior to each other in the treatment of subacromial impingement syndrome? A randomized clinical trial. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med 2011; 47(3): 375-80.
  32. Mao CY, Jaw WC, Cheng HC. Frozen shoulder: Correlation between the response to physical therapy and follow-up shoulder arthrography. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1997; 78(8): 857-9.
  33. Ebenbichler GR, Erdogmus CB, Resch KL, Funovics MA, Kainberger F, Barisani G, et al. Ultrasound therapy for calcific tendinitis of the shoulder. N Engl J Med 1999; 340(20): 1533-8.
Volume 15, Issue 6 - Serial Number 6
February 2020
Pages 361-366
  • Receive Date: 03 February 2020
  • Revise Date: 02 June 2022
  • Accept Date: 22 May 2022
  • First Publish Date: 22 May 2022