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Red Light Therapy for Pain Relief: What You Need to Know

You may have heard of red light therapy (RLT) as a treatment for various conditions, such as wrinkles, acne, and hair loss treatments. But in recent years, scientists have discovered that certain types of red light improve joint pain and even arthritis – problems that plague a significant chunk of the population.

In fact, some possible benefits of red light therapy include:

  • Reduced Inflammation
  • Better Rehabilitation New and Old Injuries
  • Improved Athletic Recovery & Performance
  • Increased Immunity
  • Deep Level Repair Cells, Joints, Tissue, and Skin
  • Improved Sleep & Relaxation
  • Reduced Anxiety & Depression
  • And more…

According to a National Health Interview Survey(1) over 50 million Americans reported being in pain “most days”, with some even dealing with pain every day for months or years on end – which can be extremely debilitating and frustrating (to say the least).

Not only that, but the impact on the economy is staggering as well: According to health economists from Johns Hopkins University, chronic pain can cost as much as $635 billion a year, which is more than the yearly costs for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. (2)

In light of these findings, it’s no wonder that people are looking for alternative pain relief treatments – and red light therapy is a promising option that’s gained popularity because of the scientific progress that’s been made in recent years.

But what exactly is red light therapy? And how exactly does it work to relieve pain? I’ll get into that in a second… But first, let’s talk about pain and inflammation in the body!

 

Inflammation In The Body

So, by now you know that there are many benefits of red light therapy, including reducing inflammation… but what is inflammation, and why does it matter? Here’s a quick breakdown…


What exactly is inflammation?

Inflammation is a casual term used to describe the body’s response to infection, injury, or some other type of harm. The inflammatory process is a necessary and beneficial one that helps the body heal and protect itself from further damage. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to a wide variety of health problems, which we’ll discuss in a bit more detail in the sections below.

 

What causes Inflammation?

As we touched on before, inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection.

It is a complex process that involves the immune system, white blood cells, and chemicals called cytokines.

Cytokines are produced by cells in the immune system and play an important role in inflammation. They are responsible for recruiting white blood cells to the site of injury and helping them do their job – fighting off any foreign substances or invaders.

Think of them like a casual welcoming committee. The cytokines are the enthusiastic hosts, providing information and guiding visitors (white blood cells) towards their destination. In this case, that destination is an area of inflammation or infection.

Once the white blood cells arrive on the scene, they begin to fight off any foreign substances or invaders they encounter, ultimately reducing inflammation and promoting healing.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Inflammation

So once the inflammatory response begins, what are some of the symptoms you might experience? Generally speaking, they are pretty hard to miss… They can include:

  • Pain and tenderness at the site of injury
  • Redness and swelling of the affected area
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Weakness and fatigue

 

But it’s not all bad… As you know, the inflammatory process actually serves a very important purpose!

When the body is injured or infected, it’s trying to send a message to the brain that something is wrong.

Without an inflammatory response, your body would not be able to recognize and repair the damage. And while inflammation itself can be uncomfortable, it’s important not to ignore the underlying causes, or allow the inflammation to turn chronic…

 

The Differences Between Acute and Chronic Inflammation

The difference between acute and chronic inflammation is that acute inflammation is characterized by a rapid onset and intense peak, while chronic inflammation is characterized by a slow onset and extended duration.

In other words, acute inflammation comes on fast and is very intense, then resolves quickly. It is caused by injuries like broken bones, cuts, scrapes and burns.

On the other hand, chronic inflammation is the result of a more prolonged exposure to the same triggers (like infections, autoimmune disorders, and even stress!) and causes more long-lasting damage. Common examples of chronic conditions include arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and eczema.

The good news is that there are many steps you can take to control and prevent chronic inflammation and its effects on the body.

One of which is using red light therapy for pain and inflammation. But it’s important to be clear on which type of light therapy you need in order to get the maximum benefit!

 

What Are The Different Types Of Light Therapy Devices For Pain Relief?

When you search for terms such as “red light therapy for joint pain,” you’ll come across dozens of devices promising similar benefits and features. However, there are significant differences in treatment depending on what kind of light you use.

Here are the three main types of red light therapy devices for pain relief:

  • Red light is based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
  • Near-infrared (NIR) light therapy.
  • Low-level laser therapy (also called photobiomodulation).

Each of these three types of red light therapy operates differently, and as a result, each provides different benefits.

LED-based red light therapy is arguably the most popular one – mostly because they are relatively inexpensive to produce.  

The problem with regular LEDs is that they emit light at a fairly wide-angle – up to 120 degrees. That makes it hard for the light to penetrate deep into tissues and deliver the pain-relieving benefits that researchers have found to be effective in chronic pain conditions.

The most popular type of red light therapy devices that use LED’s are going to be panels.

Near-infrared light (NIR) is also a popular treatment. It doesn’t penetrate tissue very deeply depending on the wavelength, so near-infrared radiation is often used for cosmetic reasons (for scars or superficial wounds) and to boost collagen production.

One of the biggest factors in NIR and pain relief is its wavelength. While most scientific research on the effectiveness of near-infrared radiation on tissue healing has used the 810nm wavelength, most consumer devices produce light in the much less effective 850nm range. This means that many NIR devices on the market are not as effective as they could be.

The most common type of device here are going to be the small hand-held devices many use on their face.

Last but not least, photobiomodulation involves both laser diodes and specially-designed LEDs that emit light at a narrow-angle to penetrate tissues more effectively.

Laser diodes are more expensive to produce than regular LEDs, which is why you’ll find that most photobiomodulation devices are more expensive than other types of red light therapy devices.

Which is typically why you’ll see high end doctor offices have this type of red light therapy device.

There are a variety of red light therapy devices available in this category, but the best use pulsed wave (PW) systems and pulse width modulation instead of constant wave (CW) non-pulsed light.

The difference between the two is that PW uses short pulses of light at a relatively high energy level, whereas CW uses a constant stream of light at a relatively lower energy level. This means that PW can penetrate tissues more deeply and provide more effective pain relief. (3)

 

Types of Pain That May Benefit From Red Light Therapy

  • Chronic Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Muscular Pain
  • Traumatic Injuries (ACL, MCL, Sprains)
  • Surgery Pain
  • Sports Injuries

How Does Red Light Therapy Treat Pain and Inflammation?

So, now that we know the different types of red light therapy and their respective benefits, let’s take a closer look at how this therapy can actually help to relieve pain and inflammation.

Tissue Healing

Blood flow is a key component of tissue and wound healing. Healing cannot occur without the proper amount of blood flowing to the affected area, which allows oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to it.

In a study by Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, a randomized controlled trial found that Photobiomodulation (PBM) improves microcirculation and blood flow to injured tissues by enhancing vasodilation and angiogenesis (the production of new blood vessels). (4)

Cartilage Regrowth

Cartilages are the soft tissues that cushion our joints and serve as a protective seal between bones in our body. When these cartilages degenerate, it leads to conditions like osteoarthritis, which is a major cause of joint pain.

Many people believe that once your cartilage is gone, it’s gone for good. However, this isn’t the case!

Researchers from Saudi Arabia found that red light promotes cartilage regeneration, increases cartilage thickness, and reduces osteoarthritis pain.

An eight-week study conducted in 2017 examined the effects of low-level laser therapy on knee osteoarthritis patients treated three times a week for four weeks. Researchers found significant differences in pain relief and improved cartilage thickness, compared to those in the placebo group! (5)

Long-Lasting Pain Reduction

It’s no secret that pain is one of the most debilitating symptoms that people experience. Not only is it physically draining, but it can also take a toll on your mental health as it can impact the way you function day-to-day.

The good news is that science has proven that red light therapy can help to alleviate pain in a variety of ways! One study found that red light therapy reduced pain, swelling, and stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. (6)

The pain-relieving effects of red light therapy are thought to be due to its ability to stimulate the release of pain-reducing chemicals like endorphins and serotonin, that help to block pain signals from being sent to the brain.

Decreasing Inflammation

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to injuries and wound healing is inflammation. In fact, it’s been said that inflammation is the root cause of most chronic diseases, so it’s no surprise that many people are searching for ways to reduce it.

But if you’re struggling to find effective ways to reduce inflammation, then you may want to give red light therapy a try!

According to a randomized, placebo-controlled study of Achilles Tendinitis patients, photobiomodulation significantly reduced prostaglandin E2 levels (an indicator of pain and inflammation). (7)

The science shows that photobiomodulation causes the suppression of chemicals that fuel inflammation while also triggering the release of chemicals that actively fight it.

The bottom line is that red light therapy is a powerful tool that can help to reduce pain and inflammation in a variety of ways.

Not only can it help manage the pain of an injury or chronic condition, but it can also help to reduce inflammation and enhance your body’s natural healing in the long term too!

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Common Treatments

Although it’s important to treat the pain and inflammation that accompany an injury or condition, some treatments can come with their own unwanted side effects, as we’ll look at below…

Icing

We covered this in-depth when we looked at Icing Vs Red Light Therapy: The Ultimate Guide, but it’s worth reiterating here… while Icing can be useful to temporarily relieve pain and reduce swelling, it should be avoided at all costs if you’re dealing with a serious condition that requires long-term treatment.

This is because icing can actually prolong the healing process and increase the risk of re-injury by causing blood vessels to constrict and preventing nutrients from being delivered to the area that needs healing.

Over-The-Counter Painkillers

While painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen can be great for easing your discomfort and reducing inflammation in the short term, they won’t do anything to address the underlying cause of your injury/condition and they also come with a whole host of potential side effects.

We went into this in greater detail in our NSAIDS Vs Red Light Therapy article, so I won’t repeat myself here… but if you want to find out more about the dangers of over-the-counter pain medications and alternative treatment options, make sure you check it out!

Physio/Sports Therapy

Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy both involve using physical exercises and stretches to help restore function and strengthen your muscles while reducing pain and stiffness.

Although this can be effective for some people, it doesn’t come without its downsides… especially if your condition is chronic and requires ongoing treatment.

Firstly, if you’ve had your pain/symptoms for a long time, it can take several weeks or even months before you start to see any improvements and since most physio and sports therapists only see their clients once a week for 30 minutes, it can be a very slow process… especially for those with more severe conditions.

Not only that, but it can be both expensive and time consuming going to see a therapist each week and it isn’t always possible for people with busy lifestyles to find the time to attend their appointments.

For these reasons, some people prefer to try “alternative” treatments like laser therapy or red light therapy to help them deal with their pain/symptoms… especially when they don’t have the time or the money to visit a therapist on a regular basis.

 

How to Treat Joint Pain with Red Light Therapy

Now you know the science behind red light therapy and how it can help to reduce pain and inflammation, you might be wondering how to best use it for your specific needs!

Thankfully, here at Kineon (formerly Reviiv Light), we have created a safe, non-invasive, enhanced light therapy device specially engineered to relieve pain and support your recovery process.

The Move+ is a dual-light therapy device that uses LED light and medical-grade laser technology to help accelerate healing and reduce chronic pain.

It is proven to:

  • Support near-complete recovery of damaged blood vessels and cartilage.
  • Reduce inflammation and decrease joint pain.
  • Strengthen the body’s own unique healing process for faster rehabilitation.

By using the Move+, you get ALL this in the comfort of your own home, so you can return to what you love pain-free.

With adjustable straps, the device can comfortably fit around knees, shoulders, and similar body parts, and the three separate light modules penetrate deep into your joints from all sides to provide complete coverage.

What’s more, you only need to use the Move+ for 10-15 minutes per day, so it’s a very manageable way to reduce pain and inflammation in your joints. Simply sit down, relax, and let the Move+ do its thing!

Generally, you can expect to see improvements within two weeks, however some of our users report improvements after only one session!

And with our 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee, you can try out the Move+ with complete peace of mind – either you experience the relief you’re looking for or you get your money back!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Laser Light More Effective Than LED Light For Pain Relief?

Since laser diodes are more concentrated and penetrate deeper into tissues than LEDs, light therapy devices that use laser diodes are more effective in treating inflammatory joint problems.

Is Red Light Therapy Safe?

Yes! unlike ultraviolet (UV) light (e.g, sunlight, tanning beds), red light therapy is extraordinarily safe. It is non-ionizing and non-invasive, with little to no risk of negative side effects. We went into this topic in more detail when we asked: How Dangerous Is Red Light Therapy?

Any mild side effects that can occur (headaches and fatigue) are a result of exceeding the recommended dosage.

Am I Too Old To Feel The Benefits Of RLT?

There is no age limit to receive the benefits of the device! One of our first Beta-Testers Ed (72) has had knee pain for 25 years, and within 3-4 days of using the device he started to notice a positive impact.

He has now been using the Move+ since December and the results he has gained have been life-changing. He is now walking over 10,000 steps a day and enjoying the activities he used to love with little to no pain.

Can You Use The Device On All Body Parts?

Yes absolutely! Currently, the strap is designed primarily for the knee, but the modules themselves can be used anywhere. The strap design will be more effective in some areas than others, but we are already designing new straps to target different areas, so stay tuned!

So there you have it, everything you need to know about red light therapy and how it can help you get relief from your joint pain.

If you’re still on the fence about whether it’s the right treatment for you, give us a try – we offer a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee, so you can try it out and see for yourself if the Move+ is right for you.

We believe in giving our users the best possible experience, and we know that with the Move+ you’ll be able to achieve that.

So go ahead, give it a try – you won’t regret it!

Shop The Move+

1 – https://journals.lww.com/pain/Citation/2022/02000/Prevalence_of_chronic_pain_among_adults_in_the.31.aspx

2 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22607834/

3 – https://dept.wofford.edu/neuroscience/neuroseminar/pdffall2011/lighttreatment.pdf

4 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32064652/

5 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27913970/

6 – https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10103-014-1576-6

7 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16371497/

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