Does Red Light Therapy for Pain Work?

This picture describes Red Light Therapy works for Pain

Whether caused by an accident or a chronic disease, pain can be frustrating and affect your activities of daily living. The pain that also disrupts your body’s functioning may lead to depression or anxiety if left unmanaged. For this reason, treating pain is imperative. Now, let’s know more about red light therapy for pain.

Does red light therapy work for pain? Fortunately, pain management is no longer limited to pharmaceutical interventions. Red light therapy is now included on the list of pain management alternatives that are considered to be safe, non-invasive, and affordable. Let’s learn more about this regimen and its effects on different kinds of pain. 

What is Red Light Therapy? 

If you’re not familiar with red light therapy, you can learn more about what it is and how it works in this article. The concept of red light therapy is this: red light therapy is a safe and non-invasive procedure that emits wavelengths of light in mid-600 nm to penetrate deep into the skin and cause changes at a cellular level. It also stimulates cell regeneration and reduces oxidative stress. Red light therapy for pain works the same way. 

Can Red Light Therapy Help in Pain Management? 

Red light therapy has been proven to help in pain management. It’s also considered an alternative for people who don’t like having pain medication maintenance. Some people prefer this safe and non-invasive therapy for pain management because medication often has serious side effects. 

Also, red light therapy is no longer limited in the four walls of clinics. You can now perform this regimen on your own using an FDA-approved affordable red light device. 

Clinical Research About The Use of Red Light Therapy for Pain 

Red Light Therapy for Joint Pain 

Many studies have been conducted to prove the effectiveness of red light therapy in relieving or managing joint pain. Joint pain is often related to chronic conditions like arthritis, osteoarthritis, and tendonitis. 

Joint pain is one of the most common problems that lead to disability. Back in the old days, joint pain was typically managed by medication and surgery. 

For pain experienced by people with osteoarthritis, a series of journals have proven that red light therapy relieves and reduces knee pain [1].

For those with rheumatoid arthritis, the burden focuses on the joints since this is where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues. The joints on the hands, wrists, knees, and toes are mostly affected. 

Fortunately, red light therapy reduces inflammation, which is responsible for moderate to severe joint pain in many medical conditions. A study also showed that red light therapy can significantly stimulate healing and relieve pain by increasing the production of endogenous endorphins [2, 3].

Red light therapy can also relieve the pain experienced in tendonitis. Tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendons in any part of your body. The pain felt by people with this condition can alter their normal functioning. Sports injuries often cause the most common type of tendonitis. 

A small study showed that 75% of patients with patellar tendonitis had found the most effective cure in red light therapy. The researchers concluded that red light therapy effectively manages the pain and inflammation of patellar tendonitis before the condition becomes worse [4].

Red Light Therapy for Back Pain

One of the most exciting treatments available these days is red light therapy for back pain relief. Back pain is a broad concept and is usually a symptom of a more serious underlying condition.

If you’re considering a safe, non-invasive, and non-pharmaceutical management for back pain, red light therapy is the answer. A 2016 study concluded that it’s more effective to combine red light therapy with passive stretching exercises to reduce spinal back pain compared to placebo treatments [5].

Red Light Therapy for Muscle Pain

Red light therapy also aids in faster muscle recovery, reduced pain, and less soreness. For instance, a study in 2014 showed that red light therapy at 630 nm largely contributed to the muscle recovery of healthy young men after 30 eccentric contractions with a load of 100 % of maximal voluntary isometric contraction strength of the elbow flexors of the non-dominant arm [6].

Another study also revealed that red light therapy can increase muscle mass after training and decrease inflammation in muscle biopsies [7].

Red Light Therapy for Knee Pain

Being diagnosed with osteoarthritis will also leave you with moderate to severe knee pain. Red light therapy doesn’t only reduce the knee pain in osteoarthritis, but it also promotes cartilage regeneration. 

A study in 2017 showed significant knee pain reduction and cartilage regeneration through red light therapy. The results were attained because of the biochemical changes involved in the regimen. Red light therapy doesn’t only relieve the symptom, but it also works wonders in penetrating deep into the root cause of pain [8].

Red Light Therapy for Dental Pain

There are dental pains that even pharmaceutical interventions can’t manage. These are the ones that come with serious underlying causes. If surgery is too invasive for you, you can always count on red light therapy for relieving dental pain. 

A study in Baghdad has proven that red light therapy is efficient in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders. The results showed that red light therapy is a very effective method for treating temporomandibular disorders. Its thermal effects will lead to vasodilation and supply enough oxygen to wash out inflammatory mediators in the area [9].

How Often Should You Use Red Light Therapy for Pain Management?

Red light therapy is a treatment for many health conditions. If you’re wondering how often you should use red light therapy for pain management, you must expect different answers. 

For joint pain, a study revealed that using red light therapy for 10-15 minutes twice a day effectively manages joint pain with underlying medical conditions [10].

For muscle pain management, red light therapy is beneficial for the more massive leg and core muscle groups. For best results, expose the affected areas of your body to the red light for about 3-5 minutes before your usual exercise. Pre-conditioning is done to prevent injuries on the muscle groups. After your regular exercise session, expose the same areas of your body again to the light for 10-20 minutes. 

When done correctly, the best results for pain management will reveal sooner as expected [7].

It’s best for other pain management to use red light therapy for about 6-15 minutes, 3-5 times a week, for several months. With several affordable red light therapy devices that you can use at home, using it consistently will no longer be a problem. 

Summary

Clinical research from different parts of the world has shown how red light therapy makes pain management more effective for different medical conditions. We no longer have to endure costly maintenance pharmaceutical medications now that we are given a safer and non-invasive alternative.

For best results, it’s also essential to practice safety precautions, consider risk factors and contraindications, and handle red light therapy devices properly.


References:

  1. Angelova A, Ilieva EM. Effectiveness of High-Intensity Laser Therapy for Reduction of Pain in Knee Osteoarthritis. 2016 December 20 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28096711/
  2. Avci P et al. Low-level laser (Light) Therapy  (LLLT) in Skin: Stimulating, Healing, Restoring. 2013 March – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
  3. Ibrahim M. The Effect of Light Therapy on Chronic Pain. 2020 September 10 – https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03677206
  4. Morimoto Y, Saito A, Tokuhashi Y. Low-Level Laser Therapy for Sports Injuries. 2013 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799051/
  5. Stasinopoulos D et al. LLLT for the Management of Patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis. 2016 February 5 – https://www.mdlinx.com/journal-summaries/ankylosing-spondylitis/2016/02/05/6505314/
  6. Borges L et al. Light-Emitting Diode Phototherapy Improves Muscle Recovery After a Damaging Exercise. 2013 November 21 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24258312#
  7. Ferraresi C, Huang Y, Hamblin MR. Photobiomodulation in Human Muscle Tissue: An Advantage in Sports Performance? 2016 December 9 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5167494/
  8. Nambi G et al. Radiological and Biochemical Effects (CTX-II, MMP-3, 8, and 13) of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in Chronic Osteoarthritis in Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia. 2016 December 3 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27913970/
  9. Al-Quisi AF et al. Efficacy of the LED Red Light Therapy in the Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders: Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. 2019 May 7 – https://www.hindawi.com/journals/prt/2019/8578703/
  10. Stelian J et al. Improvement of Pain and Disability in Elderly Patients with Degenerative Osteoarthritis of the Knee Treated with Narrow-Band Light Therapy. 1992 January – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1727843/

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