Contemporary Medicine
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A revolutionary laser treatment can slash the ­crippling pain of arthritis, British scientists have found.

The technique involves zapping sore joints with a powerful beam of light.

It stimulates the same pressure points targeted in acupuncture – but using low-energy lasers rather than needles.

Volunteers who had the treatment at the University of Dundee reported a ­significant reduction in pain and ­discomfort and an improvement in their quality of life.

The beams are thought to work in the same way as needles by stimulating the release of chemicals called endorphins. These are the body’s natural painkillers and are pumped out by the brain ­ during times of pain and stress.

The low-energy beams are powerful enough to release the endorphins but not strong enough to cause burns or damage the skin. Previous studies looking at whether acupuncture can help the millions of people in Britain who suffer with arthritis have yielded mixed results, with some showing it can ease pain and others suggesting it is no better than exercise and physiotherapy.

Lasers could be safer and more popular because they do not carry a risk of infection and are more acceptable to patients who have a ­phobia about needles.

More than 10 million people in the UK suffer from arthritis, which causes severe joint pain and inflammation. Many are in constant agony, with everyday tasks impossible.

Osteoarthritis affects at least 8.5 million and causes the cartilage between bones to waste away, leading to painful joints usually in the hands, spine, knees and hips. Rheumatoid arthritis is more severe but less common, affecting almost 700,000 people.