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Effectiveness of high intensity laser therapy on pain, grip strength and median nerve conductivity in pregnant women with carpal tunnel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial [with consumer summary]
Ashour AA, Yehia RM, El Meligie MM, Hanafy AF
Journal of Hand Therapy 2022 Jul 8:Epub ahead of print
clinical trial
8/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: Yes; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: Yes; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

STUDY DESIGN: Single-blind randomized controlled trial. Introduction: High-intensity laser therapy (HILT) was recently introduced to the physiotherapy field as a treatment option for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). However, evidence about its effectiveness on pregnant women with CTS is sparse. PURPOSE OF STUDY: To test the effectiveness of HILT combined with a conventional physical therapy program to reduce pain intensity, sensory and motor nerve distal latency, and increase grip strength in pregnant women with CTS compared with the physical therapy alone. METHODS: Fifty-four pregnant women with mild to moderate CTS were randomized and further allocated into two groups. The HILT group (n = 27) received both HILT and conventional physical therapy, and the control group (n = 27) received only physical therapy, including nerve and tendon gliding exercises and the use of an orthotic device. Participants received the interventions at the University Hospital (omitted for review) three times per week for 5 weeks. An 11-points numerical pain rating scale, electromyography, and a handheld dynamometer were used for data collection before and after the treatment. RESULTS: Participants from both groups presented significant improvement in the median nerve motor nerve distal latency (MNDL), sensory nerve distal latency, numerical pain rating scale, and handgrip strength after the intervention. The between-group difference showed more improvements in participants of the HILT group on reducing pain intensity, mean difference (MD) -3.11 (-4.1 to 2.1), and sensory nerve distal latency, MD -0.3 (-0.5 to -0.1) compared with the control group. DISCUSSION: HILT produced greater improvement in outcomes of pregnant women with mild to moderate CTS whichsuggests that adding HILT to traditional CTS physical therapy protocol is beneficial and safe. CONCLUSIONS: High-intensity laser therapy combined with a standard physical therapy program for CTS in pregnant women is better than the physical therapy program alone to improve pain intensity and median nerve sensory distal latency.

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