According to statistics, joint pain is the most common type of chronic pain affecting adults. Joint pain can have various causes, such as old age, injury, or infection, however, the most common cause is arthritis. In the constant search for efficient pain relief, experts are already looking into red light therapy for arthritis.
A report from the US Bone and Joint Initiative states that over 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis pain. According to the same report, this number will rise to 67 million by 2030. That means a quarter of the adult American population will experience arthritis pain in less than a decade.
Arthritis treatment usually relies heavily on NSAID drugs for pain relief. Unfortunately, pain medications rarely result in complete pain relief, and even if they do, it is only temporary.
The other pillar of arthritis treatment is corticosteroids. This is a type of medication that can have numerous serious adverse effects and requires monitoring by a medical professional.
Nowadays, red light therapy is emerging as one of the most effective treatment options for arthritis symptoms. Many people choose red light therapy for pain relief, because red and infrared light promote healing and help arthritis sufferers lead more active and productive lives.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a painful condition that involves swelling of one or more joints in the body. As of now, it is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States. Arthritis pain is a type of chronic pain that decreases the quality of everyday life for millions of people worldwide.
Types of Arthritis
Arthritis symptoms are similar but there are several types of this disease that have different causes and their own peculiarities.
This is the most common type of arthritic pain and one of the most common causes of joint pain. Osteoarthritis pain mostly affects elderly patients. This is because it is the type of musculoskeletal pain that comes from joint damage caused by overuse.
The onset of this condition is gradual – the cartilage in the joints wears off from use over time. Simply put, without the cartilage between the bones, the joints no longer have their natural shock absorber. With every move, the bones grate against each other and that leads to pain. The immune system activates and that brings on an inflammation that contributes to the pain.
Osteoarthritis mostly affects the joints that bear the greatest weight and pressure. Knee pain and ankle pain are very common with this type of arthritic pain.
Obesity and injuries can be contributing factors. Medication and physical therapy are the standard options to treat pain from this type of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which joint pain is caused by the immune system which attacks the joints, causing inflammation.
A common symptom of this type of arthritis is the so-called rheumatoid nodules – bumps over joints such as elbows and knuckles.
The onset of this condition can be either sudden or gradual, and the causes are still not known. Researchers currently speculate that a possible trigger might be a past viral infection but there isn’t enough evidence to back that theory yet.
If left untreated, this type of arthritis can lead to permanent joint damage and affect internal organs as well. When it comes to the joints, it usually affects them symmetrically, in pairs.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects multiple systems in the body, causing pain and inflammation. Joint pain is just one of the many symptoms.
Gout is a disease that is caused by increased production of uric acid, or the inability of the kidneys to process it. This leads to a build-up of this acid in the joints – typically affecting the feet, but possibly other joints as well.
The excess uric acid forms crystals in the joints which result in very painful inflammation. This disease usually occurs in flare-ups but, over time, they can become more and more frequent, and, eventually, the pain can be constant and followed by joint stiffness.
This type of arthritis happens to some people who suffer from psoriasis – an inflammatory skin condition that presents as scaly patches of skin, most commonly on the scalp and around the elbows and knees.
In this case, the immune system attacks the healthy cells of the skin and the joints. This results in swelling and joint pain.
What Is Low Level Laser Therapy and How Does It Affect the Body?
Red light therapy, or low level laser therapy is a type of treatment that uses light-emitting diode devices to emit red and near infrared light. This type of light mimics natural sunlight, and especially the range of light that the sun emits at sunset and dawn.
Led light therapy is not just skin deep – it impacts the entire body. The red and infrared light penetrates the skin and influences the processes in the body. It boosts circulation in the blood vessels and improves blood flow, stimulates the mitochondria which produce energy and oxygen, and generally reduce inflammation. All of this supports the natural healing process of the body.
Are Red Light Therapy Treatments Safe?
Modern red light therapy is completely safe and has no adverse side effects. Red and near infrared light treatment uses frequencies of light which don’t cause heat and, unlike conventional lasers, can’t cause burns. Unlike the sun’s UV rays, red and infrared light used in a red light therapy device does not cause skin cancer either.
The way red light therapy works is entirely non-invasive and causes no tissue damage at all. Even though red light energy penetrates the skin all the way to the muscles, nerves, and bones, it doesn’t cause any harm on its way there.
Red Light Therapy for Arthritis Pain Relief
Red light therapy devices have been proven to work as pain relief devices for a whole range of painful conditions, including but not limited to muscle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis.
So how does red light therapy work to reduce inflammation and pain caused by arthritis?
The answer is complex. There are multiple mechanisms through which red light therapy devices relieve pain.
Studies have shown that red and infrared wavelengths are able to reach the peripheral nerve endings which function as pain receptors and reduce the musculoskeletal pain that they detect.
By supporting mitochondrial function, red light therapy actually helps reduce joint pain in several different ways. Mitochondrial proliferation and improved functioning of the mitochondria lowers the number of damaging free radicals, increases oxygenation of tissue and provides more energy that the body can use to fight inflammation.
The anti inflammatory effects are boosted by an improvement in blood flow. The blood carries the extra oxygen to the affected parts, as well as immune cells that reduce inflammation. This results in reduction of severe pain and lower incidence of muscle spasms.
Finally, red and infrared groups of light stimulate the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and endorphins which dampen feelings of pain.
Using Low Level Light Therapy Devices at Home
Red and near infrared light therapy is nowadays fully available to use at home. Thanks to modern red light devices like FlexBeam, incorporating red light therapy into your daily routine is a simple and efficient option for pain relief.
FlexBeam comes with simple presets and is designed so that you can fit it around joints and limbs. This allows the light therapy to reach deep inside the joint where it lower both nociceptive and neuropathic pain and brings lasting relief.