One of the top benefits of red light therapy is pain management. It can be used for the treatment of a wide range of painful conditions. For example, arthritis, nerve pain, back pain, joint pain, and chronic pain conditions. It can be used at home or in professional settings such as wellness centers and chiropractic centers.
How Does Red Light Therapy Help With Pain Management?
Improves Blood Circulation
Red light therapy promotes vasodilation of the blood vessels, enhancing blood flow throughout the body. This aids in the efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged cells, promoting healing and cell repair. Increased oxygen supply also promotes cellular metabolism and energy production, further promoting cell and tissue rejuvenation.
Efficient circulation also helps in waste removal. It facilitates the purging of toxins and metabolic wastes, reducing inflammation. Furthermore, improved blood flow relaxes muscles, easing aches and tension.
Several studies suggest that red light therapy has anti-inflammatory effects beneficial for pain management. It modulates the production of cytokines. It reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and promotes the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Red light therapy also signals cellular processes that promote tissue repair and resolve inflammation. It reduces oxidative stress by inhibiting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and enhancing the activity of antioxidant enzymes.
Red light is beneficial in reducing edema. Edema can contribute to pain and discomfort. Red light therapy promotes lymphatic drainage and improves blood flow, consequently reducing swelling. Reduced swelling and edema alleviate pressure from the nerves, reducing pain.
Immune System Modulation
Red light therapy influences different aspects of the immune response. Aside from modulating cytokines, it activates immune cells such as macrophages and lymphocytes. These immune cells play a crucial role in identifying and eliminating pathogens, damaged tissues, or abnormal tissues.
Red light therapy also enhances phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is the process by which immune cells engulf and digest pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. The enhanced immune responses improve your body’s defense against infections and diseases.
Accelerates Cell Repair and Tissues Healing
Red light therapy acts in several ways to accelerate cell repair and tissue healing. First, it stimulates mitochondrial activity. It penetrates through the skin to reach the energy-producing organelles within the cells.
It stimulates increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Elevated levels of ATP enhance cell repair and rejuvenation processes. Secondly, it improves cellular metabolism as it enhances oxygen circulation and nutrient uptake. As a result, the cells function more efficiently, contributing to faster healing and tissue repair.
Thirdly, red light therapy promotes angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the process of the formation of new blood vessels. More blood vessels result in increased blood supply to the cells, further facilitating tissue repair. Furthermore, red light therapy enhances collagen production, leading to improved wound healing, enhanced tissue repair, and reduced scarring.
Reduces Pain Perception
Red light therapy reduces pain reception in various ways. According to the gate control theory of pain, if you introduce a non-painful sensation on the body, it overrides the perception of the pain signal. In this case, the sensations produced during red light therapy serve as a “close the gate” signal to override and inhibit the perception of pain signals.
Red light therapy also stimulates the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers. The hormone binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, reducing the perception of pain.
Red light may also block the transmission of pain signals along nerve pathways. Ultimately, it promotes relaxation, improves sleep, and boosts mood, increasing your pain tolerance.
Reduces Nerve Pain
Red light therapy aids in nerve regeneration and neuroprotection. It promotes the regrowth of damaged nerve fibers and enhances overall neural function. It modulates nerve functioning, reducing incidents of abnormal firing of nerve cells. Red light therapy also has analgesic effects that inhibit pain transmission through the neural pathways, resulting in immediate pain relief.
Reduces Musculoskeletal Pain
Red light therapy reduces pain and discomfort in muscles, bones, joints, and connective tissues. It promotes muscle relaxation and improves circulation in connective tissues and joints.
Reduced muscle tension enhances mobility and reduces pain associated with stiffness or limited range of motion. It also reduces muscle spasms.
In regards to joint health, red light therapy reduces inflammation in the synovial membrane. As such, it helps to alleviate pain associated with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Pain Management
Red light therapy has numerous benefits as a method of managing pain, as follows:
Unlike treatment options such as injections or surgery, red light therapy is non-invasive. It is pain-free and does not cause discomfort. Instead, it employs a low-level red light on the skin.
Since it is non-invasive, there is no inherent risk of complications, long recovery periods, or infections. Most people do not experience any side effects. The few that do report mild side effects, such as itchiness or reddening of the skin, which are associated with photosensitivity. Often, the side effects clear up by themselves.
Reduces Dependency on Pain Medications
Unlike pain medications, which pose the risk of addiction, red light therapy does not lead to dependency, nor does it have withdrawal symptoms. Red light therapy can eliminate the need to use pain medication. Or it can be used as part of a well-rounded treatment plan with a reduced dosage of pain medication.
It is suitable for long-term pain management as there are no long-term effects. Red light therapy does not cause complications associated with continuous use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids, such as cardiovascular risk and gastrointestinal issues.
Applicable for a Wide Range of Pain Conditions
- Musculoskeletal pain such as muscle strains, sprains, or injuries.
- Nerve pain and neuropathy
- Headaches and migraines
- Back pain
- Dental pain
- Sports injuries
- Chronic conditions
Improves the Quality of Your Life
Ultimately, by reducing or alleviating pain, red light therapy enhances your quality of life. It boosts your overall well-being and gives you a greater sense of vitality.
How to Use Red Light Therapy for Pain
There are two main ways of using red light therapy for pain management. You can either seek professional red light services or use a home device.
Professional Red Light Therapy Services
If you are experiencing adverse pain, it is best to seek professional light therapy services either at a chiropractic clinic, medical spa, or wellness center. Red light therapy is administered at higher intensity using specialized equipment in a professional setting.
The professionals are well-trained to be able to determine the right intensity and frequency. They also offer expert advice about how to manage your specific condition for better outcomes.
Some considerations to keep in mind if you opt for professional red light services include cost and scheduling. Generally, professional red light services are more expensive than using at-home devices. However, you can negotiate a package price with your service provider depending on the frequency of your treatment sessions.
Another disadvantage is that you have to schedule your treatments and book appointments ahead of time. Going to the clinic or wellness center can be inconvenient and time-consuming.
At-Home Red Light Therapy Devices
There is a wide range of red light therapy devices for home use. Options range from handheld devices, panels, masks, wands, helmets, pods, etc. The right choice depends on how much coverage you want and the intensity. Handheld devices work well for smaller, targeted areas. On the other hand, for larger body parts, go for a red light panel and a full body panel or pod for full body coverage.
Home red light therapy is convenient as you do not leave the comfort of your home. You can also do it as regularly as you like, including multiple times a day. Although the initial cost of purchasing a home device can be high, owning one is cost-effective in the long run.
On the downside, there might be a learning curve as you familiarize yourself with the device and how to use it properly. Also, self-administration may be difficult on parts of the body that you do not have easy access to.
Tips for Using Red Light Therapy for Pain
- Determine the best option for you between professional and home red light therapy devices.
- For either option, do thorough research to determine a credible clinic or device respectively.
- Prepare the treatment area. The skin should be free from oils, lotions, or creams to enable the red light to penetrate.
- If you are using a home device, read the user manual to get essential information about the device’s operation, safety guidelines, and recommended usage. Set the parameters accordingly.
- Consistency is key for both professional and home treatment. Adhere to your treatment schedule for optimal results.
- Monitor progress closely. Document each treatment and monitor if there are improvements or changes. Make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
Red light therapy is helpful for pain management in different ways. It improves blood circulation, reduces inflammations, reduces pain reception, and accelerates cell and tissue repair. It is non-invasive, safe, and convenient and can be used for a wide range of pain conditions.
You may opt for professional treatment or at-home treatment. Either way, red light therapy for pain can improve the quality of your life significantly.