Red Light Therapy for Back Pain

Red Light Therapy for Back Pain

Dealing with back pain can be a real struggle, whether it’s your first time or something you have been suffering from for a while. When a flare-up hits, it can really knock you off your feet. 

While the usual remedies like rest, heat, and over-the-counter pain relievers work well, if you’re concerned about the unnecessary side effects or simply want to take a more holistic approach, there’s a solution.

Both scientifically proven and research-backed, red light therapy (RLT) is a great option for managing back pain. This article dives into what it is, how it works, and how you can incorporate it into your routine for a more comfortable, pain-free lifestyle.

Understanding Back Pain

Your back, made up of 24 bones known as vertebrae, plays a crucial role as your body’s primary support system. It bears much of the upper body’s weight, making it vulnerable to stress. Despite its apparent strength, the spine is surprisingly fragile and prone to mechanical issues that can lead to muscle strain, slipped discs, and other painful conditions.

Acute back pain, often resulting from injuries, is temporary, whereas chronic pain affects approximately 20% of individuals with acute pain and can significantly impact daily life. Factors such as fitness levels, stress, and inflammatory conditions can contribute to back pain or worsen existing conditions.

Using Red Light Therapy for the Management of Back Pain

Red light therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), is a revolutionary technique that makes use of specific wavelengths to address targeted health issues and promote various benefits. Red and near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths are chosen because of their unique ability to penetrate deeply into the skin, where they treat pain by supporting and enhancing the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

Cellular Energy

Red light boosts the functioning of mitochondria within cells. When light photons enter the body’s tissue, they’re absorbed by the mitochondria, which are the powerhouses in each cell. Inside the cells, the photonic energy is then converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a compound that fuels various cellular processes. 

With this increased energy, cells can effectively perform their essential functions, such as replication and repair, leading to faster healing of injuries and, consequently, shorter periods of pain.

Reduced Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, crucial for healing. However, excessive or chronic inflammation can result in tissue damage and prolonged discomfort.

Red light works by promoting cellular repair and reducing both acute and chronic inflammation. When you experience acute inflammation from an injury like a sprained ankle, red light therapy helps soothe the inflammatory response. It stimulates cellular repair processes, easing redness, swelling, heat, and pain, which are typical signs of inflammation.

Chronic inflammation, which can result from factors like autoimmune disorders or prolonged stress on the body, can also be alleviated with red light therapy. By encouraging cellular repair, it helps mitigate the harmful effects of cytokines, the immune system proteins, which can otherwise lead to tissue damage and worsen inflammation.

Enhanced Blood Flow

Poor blood circulation can worsen both acute and chronic pain conditions. Red light therapy aids in pain relief by stimulating the formation of capillaries and increasing blood circulation in the treated area. This increased blood flow brings oxygen and essential nutrients to cells while eliminating waste materials, contributing to back pain alleviation.

Stem Cell Activation

When you injure your back, certain factors can amplify the necessary inflammatory response, leading to the body attacking its tissues, causing damage and even stronger inflammation. 

Red light therapy can break this vicious cycle by activating inactive stem cells in the body. These cells then migrate to the injured site and transform into the specific cells needed for healing, promoting recovery in the affected areas and reducing inflammation.

Get Faster Relief With RLT Devices

Red light therapy may be administered by a physical therapist or doctor, requiring several weekly visits until the pain improves. You can also treat back pain at home with the right size and quality RLT devices that emit the necessary light for therapy. 

However, since the supporting muscles are deep, you’ll need high doses of red and NIR light to reach them effectively, which inexpensive wands and masks may not provide. Therefore, it's important to invest in a high-quality device for light therapy, ideally with both red and NIR light.

You can begin with 10-20 minute sessions, three to five times a week, and adjust the duration as your pain improves. It’s important to note that there’s no risk of “overdosing” on red light, but increasing exposure doesn’t necessarily result in additional benefits.

At Hooga, we offer a variety of high-irradiance RLT devices that deliver concentrated and specific wavelengths of red and NIR light to your body. One of our top choices for easing back pain is the ULTRA750 panel, offering powerful treatment while you relax comfortably in a lying position. 

So, the next time you “throw your back out,” reach for the red light to experience quick relief.

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