Radiation Treatment for Bursitis: Is It Effective?

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One of the forms of treatment that is heavily researched for its potential to provide relief to bursitis pain is low level laser therapy or cold radiation treatment for bursitis.

Low Level Laser Therapy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had recently recognized the positive effect of light therapy in providing relief to various forms of arthritis like bursitis. Research has found that infrared and visible red light can penetrate tissue depth of 30 to 40 mm and this can be beneficial in providing relief to various forms of arthritis and joint problems.

Low level laser therapy or LLLT is a controversial form of treatment that uses light-emitting diodes to alter cellular function. As of the time of writing, there is no consensus in the medical community regarding the ideal use of laser therapy. Nevertheless, specific protocols have already suggested that LLLT is effective in relieving short-term pain from arthritis and bursitis.

Scientific Research on Laser Therapy and Bursitis

Dr. Demir and company of Erciyes University Medical Faculty in Turkey compared the effects of laser, ultrasound, and the combination of two in tendon healing. The study revealed that ultrasound alone, LLLT alone, and the combination of the two forms of treatments all increased tendon healing biomechanically and biochemically. Hence, both physical modalities of ultrasound treatment and laser treatment can be helpful in facilitating the healing of tendons.

Another study from Norway has seen the potential of laser therapy for treatment of bursitis. In the 1998 Physical Therapy Reviews, Norwegian physiotherapist Jan M Bjordal published the results of his thesis about low level laser therapy in shoulder tendinitis and bursitis. The results revealed that LLLT trials for shoulder tendinitis and bursitis are comparable, in terms of short-term efficacy, to conventional treatments such as NSAIDs. The adverse side effects of LLLT are only in minor forms such as headache and nausea. Nevertheless, these side effects are rarely seen compared to medication, where serious ulcers and other gastrointestinal discomfort are common. From these results, the study recommended that LLLT should be used much in the same way as NSAIDs or steroid injections are used for short-term relief from bursitis pain.

LLLT Only as a Short-term Remedy

There is research to support LLLT use for temporary pain relief. However, various reviews from Stephen Barrett and the Cigna insurance company concluded that LLLT is still considered as an experimental treatment and no solid scientific evidence can manifest its role in influencing the course of any ailment, including bursitis. Thus, it can only be considered as a short-term remedy to provide relief against pain.

On-going Trials

There are several clinical trials being conducted to study the potential of laser therapy for various forms of arthritis such as osteoarthritis and other joint disorders. One of these studies is the GAAD Medical Research Institute’s evaluation on the possibility of using far infrared radiation to manage pain due to osteoarthritis and other related diseases like bursitis. The results of these researches are important in unveiling the efficacy of radiation treatment for bursitis, influencing future treatment plans for arthritis and other related problems.


In conclusion, research has revealed that radiation treatment for bursitis can be effective in alleviating the pain and symptoms of the disease as a short-term remedy. However, these results are inconclusive on the overall efficacy of radiation therapy as a long-term treatment to cure bursitis. Nevertheless, research has uncovered the potential of laser to reduce bursitis pain. With future clinical trials, the medical community will potentially accept radiation treatment as a cure for bursitis and other related diseases.