Back pain, joint pain, and neuropathy pain can be extremely torturous, and when they become chronic, they can cause sleepless nights. You may have tried medication, massage, acupuncture, or even Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) to get rid of the pain.
While they may provide relief, they hardly offer a cure. Therefore, red light therapy should be considered a new pain relief option. Red light therapy benefits for pain and can not only provide relief but also potentially cure your problem.
Table of Contents
- Red Light Therapy and Pain Relief
- Research on red light therapy benefits for pain
- What is the best red light therapy for pain?
- Best red light therapy device for pain and home use
This article explores the science behind red light therapy for pain and how it can help you achieve your pain relief goals. Additionally, we provide tips on how to get the best results from red light therapy at home.
Red Light Therapy and Pain Relief
Red light therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT) or non-thermal LED therapy, is a type of phototherapy that uses red (630-700nm) and near-infrared (700-1200nm) wavelengths of light to stimulate cellular function. These wavelengths can penetrate deep into the skin and tissues, which is an advantage over other types of light.
The basic principle behind red light therapy for pain relief is that the light energy is absorbed by the cells in the affected area. This absorption stimulates the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the energy currency of cells.
Does red light therapy work for pain?
Red light therapy was first used to treat lupus and the associated inflammation and pain. Dr. Niels Ryberg Finsen received the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1903 for his exceptional contributions to this field.
From the results of 804 patients treated at the Finsen Centre, it was found that 695 (86%) responded well to treatment. Phototherapy was effective in treating nodular-looking tuberculous lesions and pain caused by lupus.
Therefore, it can be authoritatively recognized that red light therapy is factual and scientifically proven to help alleviate pain.
Of course, we know that pain is varied; is it possible that it could be a specific medicine for lupus only? With this in mind, we learned more about the potential benefits of red light therapy for pain.
Research on red light therapy benefits for pain
Aside from the healing principle of increased ATP, which accelerates the natural healing process and reduces pain, how else can red light therapy work for pain? We have summarised some authoritative research.
How does red light therapy work for pain?
Dilation of blood vessels
Vasodilation increases blood circulation and oxygen delivery, promoting tissue repair and regeneration while reducing inflammatory responses and pain.
Studies have shown that red light therapy promotes the expression and activity of molecules such as endothelial-type nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). These molecules stimulate the synthesis of nitric oxide, which is thought to be an important signaling molecule that leads to vasodilation.
Endorphins are natural neurotransmitters the body produces to help relieve pain and stress. They can interact with the brain's opiate receptors to reduce pain perception and induce a sense of euphoria or well-being.
Endorphins can be released in response to various stimuli, including exercise, laughter, and massage, and they may also be stimulated during red light therapy. Red light therapy can help alleviate pain and improve mood by promoting endorphin release.
Inflammation can cause pain because it involves the body's immune response to injury or infection, resulting in swelling, redness, and pain in the affected area. Additionally, inflammation can damage tissues and nerves, further exacerbating pain. Therefore, reducing inflammation is an important component of pain management.
The most recent study published in 2023 examined the effects of red light therapy on inflammation. Found that red light therapy can reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and promoting the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. This can help alleviate pain caused by inflammation.
The beauty of red light therapy for pain is that relief and healing go hand in hand. So, what types of pain can red light therapy relieve? We conducted a more profound study to find out.
Back pain relief
Many office workers who spend extended periods at their desks suffer chronic, persistent back pain. This pain can be caused by various conditions resulting from poor office habits that can be difficult to self-identify and correct daily.
A randomized controlled trial has shown that Red light therapy for back pain is a promising non-invasive option.
The musculoskeletal back pain treatment group experienced a significant reduction in various types of pain, including pain while standing still, forward and backward bending pain, rightward and leftward rotating pain, and bending pain to the right, and leftward bending, with an average reduction of about 50%.
This reduction in musculoskeletal back pain was achieved through the use of LED devices that emit a wavelength range of 800-1200nm.
And a recent study in 2022 found that treating low back pain with discogenic lumbar radiculopathy using a low-intensity laser at a wavelength of 830nm resulted in significant improvements in pain intensity and functional impairment in the people who received the treatment.
Therefore, regardless of the condition causing back pain, whether it be degenerative disc disease or sciatica, muscle strain, or nerve compression, adherence to red light therapy can alleviate pain based on the three red light therapy benefits for pain mentioned above.
Joint Pain Relief
An unscientific lifestyle can put you at odds with your health. For example, wrong movements and intense exercise can lead to osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia; and it is also possible to be born with a genetic defect that can leave you with pain at some point, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which is a significant cause of joint pain.
We have observed significant improvements in pain and joint stiffness for knee osteoarthritis, ankle joint pain, shoulder and Neck Pain, and elbow osteoarthritis in humans and animals through treatment with red light therapy. The primary benefit of red light therapy for joint pain is the reduction of inflammation and muscle recovery.
Red light therapy has been found to repair cartilage damage caused by autoimmune responses and inhibit the expression of inflammatory cytokines and mediators in treating rheumatoid arthritis. However, these beneficial effects are short-lived. More studies on low-level laser therapy are needed to explore the exact mechanism of action, dose, and exposure regimen in different clinical situations.
Neuropathic pain improvement
As the pain persists, you may become hypersensitive to touch, depressed, anxious, and unable to sleep. This can lead to weakness and further complications.
Neuropathy, compressive neuropathy, and other conditions like diabetes and shingles can all cause neuralgia to be complicated. Red light therapy for neuropathic pain has potential in this area, improving pain management by promoting healing, reducing inflammation in the affected nerve, and restoring nerve control over muscle strength.
Temporomandibular joint(TMJ) pain relief
TMJ is a sliding hinge that connects the jaw to the skull. Wear and tear of the joint discs, or shifting out of their proper alignment due to impact, can lead to arthritis and damage to the articular
cartilage. This damage can result in a condition known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which causes pain in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.
Red light therapy has shown positive results in treating TMJ pain. Furthermore, it provides a helpful guide for practitioners who treat patients with TMD, not only for pain relief but also for improving s masticatory efficiency and pressure pain thresholds.
Muscle pain relief
Red light therapy has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and stiffness, making it a potential treatment for people who experience muscle pain after exercise. It has been used by Navy SEALs, NASA astronauts, and the U.S. Olympic track team.
LEDs improved musculoskeletal training injuries for Navy SEALs by over 40% and reduced wound healing time for crew members on a US Navy submarine.
Many elite athletes have also begun to endorse certain brands of red light therapy due to its benefits for athletic performance and muscle recovery. Chris Paul and Devin Booker of the NBA Phoenix Suns use LED red light beds every day.
But this kind of elite-level equipment usually is correspondingly expensive. If we don’t need to match such a high-frequency, high-intensity competition, we can use other red light therapy devices instead.
Headache and Migraine Relief
Both headaches and migraines can have a variety of causes, including:
- Mental stress: Psychological stress, anxiety, and depression may contribute to headaches and migraines.
- Poor nutrition: Deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamin B and folic acid may contribute to headaches and migraines.
- Lack of sleep: Inadequate or poor-quality sleep may contribute to headaches and migraines.
- Neurological problems: Issues with the nervous system, such as neuropathy or neuritis, may contribute to headaches and migraines.
- Dietary issues: Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption or consuming certain foods such as chocolate and cheese may also contribute to headaches and migraines.
Red light therapy was assessed for chronic migraines in a study conducted in 2019 involving three patients. Here are the results:
Patient 1: A 42-year-old man with a 10-year history of migraines twice a week. He experienced a migraine-free period of 2 weeks after the treatment.
Patient 2: A 53-year-old woman who had been suffering from migraines 2-3 times a week for 30 years. After a 10-session regimen spanning over 7 weeks, she had no migraines during the treatment and for 90 days afterward.
Patient 3: A 72-year-old woman with a 59-year history of migraines occurring 3-5 times a week. She underwent an 8-week treatment regimen, receiving twice-a-week treatments for the first 4 weeks, followed by once-a-week treatments for the next 4 weeks. During the entire duration of the treatment, she did not experience any migraines.
What is the best red light therapy for pain?
Some studies mentioned above have utilized a range of red light therapies. In this session, we will provide information on the most effective and safe red light therapy for pain that is also affordable.
The effective wavelength of red light for pain relief
The wavelengths of red light used in pain treatment studies range from 600 to 1000 nm. This broad range is because many factors cause pain, and we have classified which problems the different wavelengths of light are effective in treating.
- Shorter wavelengths (630–750 nm) may be more effective in relieving pain and improving circulation. This is because NO affects vasodilation.
- Longer wavelengths of red light (800-900 nm) may be more effective in reducing inflammation and promoting tissue repair.
Both stimulate the production of ATPs, increasing cellular energy and metabolism. Therefore, we recommend using a combination of wavelengths for treatment(e.g., 660nm red light and 850nm near-infrared light therapy for pain).
Safe and affordable LED light therapy for pain
Theoretically, both LED and laser red light therapy for pain are safe, non-invasive options that do not contain harmful chemicals or carry the risk of dependency. They work by healing the body from the inside out.
However, it is important to note that laser therapy should always be used under professional supervision. This is because high doses can cause burns, induce the production of carcinogens, or even lead to blindness if the eyes are directly exposed in uncontrolled situations.
At Scienlodic, we prioritize the safety of our consumers and do not want anyone to suffer unnecessarily from the use of red light therapy. As a result, we have been focusing on developing and upgrading LED devices, which are just as effective as lasers but may require longer treatment durations.
More importantly, compared to office laser use, which requires the presence of trained professionals, the cost-effectiveness of LED devices is apparent. Its ability to be recommended to those around you for help or purchase.
Best red light therapy device for pain and home use
FDA-approved Scienlodic red light therapy pain relief wrap
Dual Wavelength Therapy
$199.99 Affordable prices
Safety temperature control
Takes a rather long time to work
168 LEDs at 660 nm and 42 LEDs at 850 nm, up to 630 chips
Supports wired wrap or lay flat treatment, with home design in mind such as water and oil resistance and temperature control
The wrap's irradiance of up to 980 w/m² effectively delivers light energy deep into the muscles for optimal pain relief. In addition, the device includes a transparent layer that protects against sweat, water, and oil damage.
LED light beads are designed to reduce safety hazards. Plus, Scienlodic has consumers who experience pain while sleeping in mind, with built-in temperature control protection that ensures the temperature stays below 45°C (113°F) and automatically shuts off if overheated during sleep use.
Scienlodic red light therapy panel
Five Wavelength Therapy
Supports Multi-Pulse Benefits
Support bracket assembly to unlock the convenience of home use
Aluminum alloy design
Investments over $1,000
The selection range of 1000-3600 LED lamp beads combines 5 kinds of wavelengths that are most beneficial to the human body.
The aluminum alloy appearance is combined with a movable design.
This represents not only a commitment to quality treatment but also to a high-quality lifestyle.
This is a more professional and high-end option. The multi-wavelength and pulse options enable you to effectively obtain various restorations. Additionally, the large size provides support for all kinds of assisted movements in the radiation area, making it equivalent to bringing a red light clinic into your home!
How to use red light therapy for pain at home
Consistency is key when it comes to at-home red light therapy.
Without professional supervision, you can't expect the same level of power as in a clinic, which makes the treatment potentially risky. Therefore, using home red light therapy equipment in small but frequent sessions is a safer alternative.
- Determine your own photosensitivity level: Red light does not include UV rays. However, it is recommended to check with your doctor before starting treatment if you are taking any medications that can make your skin photosensitive.
- Eye protection is necessary: The strong red light can give the illusion of looking directly at the sun. Therefore, wearing protective goggles is a must.
- Direct irradiation: Visible near-infrared light cannot penetrate clothing, so please expose the treatment area directly to red light.
- Adhere to the treatment procedure: Use it for 5-30 minutes every day and consult a professional medical person to select the light intensity and treatment time that suit you best.
This article explains the benefits of red light therapy for pain relief. Red light therapy uses red and near-infrared wavelengths of light to stimulate cellular function, which can help alleviate pain.
The therapy works by dilating blood vessels, releasing endorphins, and reducing inflammation. Red light therapy effectively treats various types of pain, including back pain, joint pain, neuropathic pain, headache, and migraine relief.