The presence, magnitude, and nature of the effect that low intensity laser irradiation has on nerve function, growth, and repair constitute a contentious area of research. We have addressed one aspect of this controversy by systematically examining the influence of 830 nm laser radiation on median nerve function. In particular, we investigated median nerve motor and sensory distal latencies, action potential amplitudes, action potential areas, and conduction velocities as well as dorsal hand skin temperatures in 33 normal subjects in a double‐blinded, randomized controlled study. All subjects received identical treatment: 30 seconds of “irradiation” at 10 points over the course of the right median nerve (five sites on the forearm and five sites distal to the wrist crease) with either an active (1.2 J/point) or inactive (0 J/point) 40 mW 830 nm continuous wave IR laser diode. Latencies, conduction velocities, amplitudes, areas, and skin temperatures were collected bilaterally at a baseline immediately prior to irradiation and at intervals of 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 minutes following treatment. Analysis of the results reveals that motor and sensory distal latencies were decreased in the treated limbs of the lasertreated group relative to the control group by 3–4% (P <.016 and.046, respectively, rank sum test). No significant differences in these quantities were found between the limbs within either group. Similarly, no alterations of action potential amplitudes, action potential areas, forearm conduction velocities, or skin temperatures were detected within or between the groups. Thus on the basis of this experiment, percutaneous 830 nm continuous wave laser irradiation can affect median nerve function, but the effects are quite limited and appear to be limited to the distal portion of the nerve. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
- conduction velocity
- low intensity laser irradiation
- median nerve
- nerve function