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Pain Relief From Light Therapy

author image Linda Tenenbaum
Based in Toronto, Linda Tenenbaum has written articles about Tai Chi and Qigong since 1999. Her articles have appeared in “Arthritis News" magazine. In 1996, she was granted a teaching certificate and holds Instructor's Black Sash in Forms and Tai Chi Sword with the World Wide Federation of Martial Arts.
Pain Relief From Light Therapy
A woman getting light therapy. Photo Credit: Rocky89/iStock/Getty Images

When there is injury, disease or overuse, pain is the communication between the body and brain. Healing is the best way to alleviate pain, rather than masking it through the use of pain killers. Drugs can offer relief, albeit with physical, mental and financial side effects and are not likely to remove the source of the pain.

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Light therapy--specifically IR (infrared)--is a natural, noninvasive, nondrug modality for healing and thus relieving pain. LILT (Low Intensity Laser Therapy) is also infrared light but a more concentrated treatment. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved these technologies for temporary relief of aching joints and muscle pains, increased blood circulation and relaxed muscles.


In 2003, NASA needed a cool light source for plant growth experiments on space missions. LEDs (light-emitting diodes) were found to be beneficial in promoting plant growth. NASA scientists and colleagues decided to further experiment on wound healing in laboratory rats and on humans. “Biologists have found that cells exposed to near-infrared light from LED grow 150 to 200 percent faster. The light arrays increase energy inside cells that speed up the healing process.”


LED infrared light penetrates the skin and then is absorbed by the mitochondria--the energy or powerhouse of the cell. Because of this increase in metabolism of the collective cells, healing is stimulated in muscle, bone, skin and subcutaneous tissue. Speeding up the healing process relieves pain more quickly.


Light therapy is more than a warming effect (which has long been shown to alleviate pain), because light therapy does not always produce heat during treatment. “There's also solid evidence that red and infrared light can calm inflammation and relieve pain even if there's no heat involved”, says Dr. Raymond Lanzafame, editor of "Photomedicine and Laser Surgery."


Resources for light therapy treatments include chiropractors, physical and massage therapists, some physicians and other health professionals. Often pain clinics that specialize in natural treatments can provide reliable information about obtaining this form of therapy. When purchasing home LED units for self-treatment, verify that the manufacturer is compliant with FDA standards.


Traditional drugs stop the pain but are expensive, have potential side effects and do not heal the cause of the pain. Light therapy has no known negative side effects. Because no drugs are used, light therapy is a natural, noninvasive treatment for pain. Part of the natural spectrum, infrared light is something you are exposed to in a less-concentrated way every day. Light therapy is a cost-effective, natural way to heal the body and eliminate pain.

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