Light Therapy for Pain


Pain, whether related to a traumatic injury such as a car accident, or a sports injury such as Tennis Elbow, or a chronic issue such as arthritis, or temporary pain resulting from menstrual cramps, can be debilitating and affect the way you feel every day and your ability to live a good, active and productive life. The pain that affects your body may also lead to depression and anxiety. Managing pain is imperative.

Noninvasive, painless therapies are preferred. For most people the solution used to be pain killers, either prescription drugs like opioids or over-the-counter (OTC) medications. However, pain medications have significant side effects, some of which can affect your ability to function just as much as the pain itself. This is the reason that non-pharmacological options for treatment of pain are highly advantageous.

Light therapy refers to the use of light energy at specific frequencies and intensities. New light based pain relief technology has shown promise in relieving and even curing pain for multiple medical conditions. Although they have been used in clinical settings for a while, in the past few years there are also accessible and effective light therapy devices for home use, including FDA cleared home devices. Home-use light therapy devices allow for self-management of pain wherever and whenever you may need it. This technology provides relief and gives you the opportunity to live pain free and drug free.

History of Light Therapy

The history of light therapy began in 2003 when NASA was looking for non-heating light sources to grow plants in space. They discovered that light-emitting diodes (LED) promoted plant growth and photosynthesis of plant cells. After further experiments scientists discovered that cells exposed to infrared light grow faster than normal. Upon further evaluation it was discovered that infrared light promotes faster healing and decrease pain.

Types of Light Therapy

Light therapy at home is easy, effective and safe. It’s important to note that light therapy can be combined with other treatments for pain management, such as physical therapy, medications, exercises, acupuncture, etc.

In light therapy, the desired light therapy is delivered with therapeutic intent. Different types of light therapy have different effects on the human body. The longer the wavelength and intensity, the deeper the penetration, delivering energy to the target cells so they can benefit from it. FDA-cleared devices deliver light therapy at correct parameters such as wavelength, irradiance, treatment repetition and duration. Light therapy devices, usually placed over the site of pain, are noninvasive and painless.

Red light

The various types of light therapy include red light therapy, infrared light therapy, dual optical energy, low light therapy and green light therapy as well as other light therapies.

Red Light Therapy (Photonic Therapy):

Red light therapy works on the red light frequency, visible to the human eye and easily distinguishable. Red light therapy for pain uses light to penetrate the skin without causing pain. It uses low levels of heat that do not hurt the skin or burn it, nor does red light therapy expose the skin to damaging UV rays.

Light therapy

Red light therapy can treat inflammation, both chronic and temporary, and is therefore useful in treating sports injuries. There is evidence that red light therapy helps the body’s healing process, and red light therapy research has shown that red light therapy can help reducing inflammation. It is believed that red light can penetrate deep enough for body tissues to absorb the light, which breaks down excess nitric oxide and restores natural ATP production. It is also thought to boost your circulation, bringing more nutrients to the cells and removing waste faster. Healthier tissues have less inflammation, faster healing and reduced pain. Red light therapy may help with dementia, dental pain, osteoarthritis, and tendinitis.

Red light therapy at home has the advantages of best red light therapy for pain, in the comfort and safety of your home.

Infrared Light Therapy (Phototherapy):

Infrared light therapy involves exposure to appropriate intensity of infrared light for the body to experience its benefits. The frequency Infrared light works on is invisible to the human eye. It’s next to red light on the electromagnetic spectrum but penetrates deeper than light on the visible spectrum. The lower the frequency of infrared light, the further the light can penetrate tissues. The penetration allows infrared light to stimulate the body’s natural biological processes for pain relief and healing. Infrared light therapy can help to inhibit pain signals, release nitric oxide, reduce inflammation, and increase circulation and blood flow to bring oxygen and nutrients to areas of pain. This means it can treat pain indicators relating to deep muscle tissue, bones and joints.

Infrared light therapy for pain may be your solution to a variety of conditions including arthritis, tendinitis, muscle soreness, carpal tunnel syndrome and more.

Dual Optical Energy:

Dual optical energy combines red light and infrared light spectrums in order to treat pain. The combination means that one device can be used to treat surface skin and muscle pain as well as deeper muscle and joint pain, utlizing a broader spectrum of light for more penetration, absorption and resulting benefits. The combination of red light therapy for pain and infrared light therapy creates an excellent spectrum for treating pain.

Low Light Laser Therapy (LLLT, Cold Laser Therapy):

Low light lasers, or cold lasers is a low intensity light therapy. Due to producing photo-chemical rather than thermal effect, it’s called “cold” laser (as opposed to high-power lasers than car destroy tissues). Although it works on the infrared spectrum, the treatment is more concentrated, allowing this pain therapy to be beneficial for chronic and acute pain relief, help release muscle spasms, and accelerate the body’s ability to heal itself. On the cellular level, it’s believed that the mitochondria are the principal photoreceptors, resulting in increased ATP and less nitric oxide and oxidative stress.

The main benefits if cold laser therapy are tissue repair, wound healing and relief from pain and inflammation. LLLT is often used in sports and physical therapy clinics in the treatment of pain and minor injuries, such as muscle strains, neck pain, knee pain and more.

Today, it’s safe and effective to have Low Light Laser Therapy in the comfort of your own home with an FDA-cleared device that allows you to self-manage your pain.

Green Light Therapy

Green light therapy uses light in the visible spectrum at correct wavelength for therapeutic effect. Those who suffer from migraines and other chronic pain may benefit from green light therapy for pain. A study had found that simple green light can help pain reduction and frequency of migraines or headaches. It was also found that exposure to green light therapy may reduce pain in patients with fibromyalgia. Although more studies need to be done to test the efficacy of green light therapy for pain, it may prove to be an additional tool to help patients in a way that is both safe and noninvasive.

Clinical Studies

While light therapy for pain is new, it has shown a great deal of promise in the field of pain relief.

The effect of two phototherapy protocols on pain control in orthodontic procedure: a preliminary clinical study, Lasers in Medical Science

Esper MA, Nicolau RA, Arisawa EA

This study looked at the efficacy of combining two light therapy types for pain control.

The Use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) For Musculoskeletal Pain, MOJ Orthop Rheumatology

Howard B Cotler, Roberta T Chow, Michael R Hamblin, and James Carroll

This study looked at the efficacy of LLLT for musculoskeletal pain indicators.

Infrared therapy for chronic low back pain: A randomized, controlled trial, Pain Research and Management

George D Gale, MBBS FRCA FRCPC DAAPM, Peter J Rothbart, MD FRCPC, and Ye Li

This clinical trial studied the efficacy of infrared light therapy on chronic low back pain.


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