How Does Red Light Therapy Help People with Arthritis?
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability, described as recurring pain from inflammation in one or more body joints. Arthritic symptoms typically include pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints. They can make simple everyday tasks a struggle and can often greatly limit physical activity. While arthritis has various forms and is commonly associated with the elderly, it can affect anyone.
Arthritis treatment generally centres on easing symptoms and increasing joint function. A treatment plan can include rest, physical therapy, exercise, medication, and sometimes even surgery to correct joint impairment.
Red light and near-infrared have actually been used in the clinical treatment of arthritis since the late 1980s. There have been hundreds of clinical studies looking to determine the parameters of effectiveness. With over 40 years of research, enough scientific data has been collected to recommend it for all arthritis sufferers no matter the cause or severity.
Some modes of light therapy are considered as a dependable treatment for the pain of arthritis, but could conceivably be an effective instrument against the root cause of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and various other inflammatory joint issues. It should come as no surprise that there is great interest with regards to the use of light on arthritis, as pain relief and accelerated healing are the effects of light therapy studied most.
Light Therapy and Its Use On Arthritis
The first major symptom of arthritis, often debilitating and life-changing, is pain. This is the most common area in which light therapy is studied. By potentially decreasing inflammation within the joint, there will likely be a decrease in pain. Practically all areas have been studied in human clinical trials including on; the knees, shoulders, jaw, fingers/hands/wrists, back, elbows, neck and ankles/feet/toes.
Due to their prevalence, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the major types of arthritis being studied, but there is reason to believe other types such as psoriatic, gout or even conditions such as fibromyalgia might benefit as well. Treatment for osteoarthritis requires the direct application of light over the affected area. Whereas treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is the same although it can also involve the application of light to the blood. This would make sense as rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and the actual root problem is in the immune cells, the joints are only a symptom.
Many factors are playing a role in the cause of arthritis, however, it’s evident there is some connection to reduced energy production and the subsequent effect that has on the body, eventually leading to the joint inflammation.
Early treatment of arthritis with Adenosine Triphosphate (the cellular energy metabolism product) had positive results, and this is the same energy molecule that red and infrared light therapy helps our cells to produce.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
Light therapy works by targeting the cellular origins of arthritis. Cells absorb the red and near-infrared wavelengths (600-890nm) and turn that light energy into chemical energy through a response commonly known as Photobiomodulation. Research has proven that red and near-infrared light increases the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), often referred to as the energy currency of the cell. This increase in adenosine triphosphate production results in more energy for the cell to perform more efficiently and repair damage.
After exposure to the specific wavelengths, Nitric Oxide (NO), frequently called the ‘miracle molecule’, is triggered and released. Nitric oxide is the body’s natural vasodilator which widens blood vessels and capillaries. After just 20 minutes of light therapy, blood flow is increased to nerves and other tissues, and this boost lasts for several hours circulating anti-inflammatory and restorative proteins throughout the body.
For a more detailed explanation on how red light therapy works, check us out here.
Red or Infrared?
The main difference between red (600-700nm) and infrared (700-1000nm) light is the depth to which they can penetrate the body. Wavelengths higher than 740nm penetrate better than wavelengths of 740nm or less, which is significant in the treatment of arthritis. Red light at a lower power may be effective for arthritis of the hands and feet, but it may not be optimal for arthritis of the knees, shoulders and bigger joints. Arthritis light therapy studies largely utilize infrared wavelengths for this very reason and the studies comparing red and infrared wavelengths demonstrate greater results from the application of infrared.
To receive the maximum benefit from red light therapy treatments, applying the appropriate dosage is essential. A greater dose is required to stimulate deeper tissue whereas the dermis and epidermis require less. To ensure penetration to the joints it is essential that wavelengths fall within the therapeutic range of 620nm to 660nm for red, and 800nm to 850nm for near-infrared.
So is red light therapy magic? Not quite, but the science behind red and near-infrared light is incredibly promising. Based on current research, the utilization of red light therapy may be a complementary strategy used both at home and in clinical practice to provide symptom management for people suffering from arthritis and other joint pain conditions.
Red light and infrared therapy can be used to very effectively:
- Reduce pain in the muscles and joints and increase blood circulation.
- Stimulate regeneration of skin and blood cells in areas exposed to the red rays.
- heal wounds more quickly, including mouth sores caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
- Stimulate collagen production for anti-aging & wrinkle reduction.
- Accelerate healing in bones and joints (a combination of red light with near-infrared can also treat large bones & joints).
- Treat arthritis & reduce inflammation in the joints.
- Quickly heal skin conditions like Eczema, Dermatitis & Psoriasis.
- Boost the immune response of the cells to naturally fight viruses like cold sores (herpes simplex) & shingles (herpes zoster) and bacteria like acne & MRSA.
Rouge has applied their extensive knowledge, expertise and research to produce the most powerful and effective red light therapy devices available on the market today. Rouge panels have been designed to be affordable, multi-purpose, and 100% safe to use for the entire family (including children and pets), and professional use by chiropractors, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, alternative healing practitioners and others.
Explore how Rouge’s selection of red light therapy panels can help you.