Red Light Therapy For Joint Pain 

Arthritis is a leading cause of pain and disability worldwide. Unfortunately, it is a very common and problematic issue for the ageing population.

So what is Arthritis? It is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints and is typically found in 56% of men and 69% of women over the age of 65. However it is becoming more prevalent in the younger generations too.

There are over 100 types of Arthritis. Recent studies suggest that anti-inflammatory drugs are doing very little and the side effects are of concern. Invasive surgeries, such as joint replacements, carry high risks that generally outweigh the benefits. Red Light Therapy is a natural treatment that is becoming popular as an alternative approach without the side effects.

This article dives deeper into the benefits of using red light therapy (aka photobiomodulation) in the management of arthritis.

So what are the symptoms of Arthritis?

Inflammation and swelling of joints
A decreased range of motion

There are a number of factors that may contribute to developing arthritis. These include age, family history, previous injuries, obesity, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

There are numerous studies and literature demonstrating that RLT helps to reduce joint pain and improve the function and activity of arthritic patients. Lets jump into what RLT is and the science behind how it works to help treat inflammation and pain.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Red and Infrared light therapy (RLT) uses specific wavelengths to stimulate a natural response in the body to enhance overall cell function. These wavelengths of light are also found in light from the sun. The light energy penetrates through layers of skin to reach muscles and nerves. Our cells absorb the light then create energy and blood flow to the areas to further support cell regrowth and regeneration. This combination of cell activity and circulation works to reduce inflammation caused by arthritis. RLT can be considered as an alternative noninvasive treatment with its potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. (1)

Not only does RLT reduce inflammation and help blood flow, it increases collagen production. Collagen is one of the building blocks found in muscles and cartilage. Cartilage is the connective tissue in joints and allows them to bend and connect with bones. It also provides support to carry the weight of the body without damage to the bones. So by increasing collagen it can help heal damage to cartilage in inflamed joints. (2)

There are hundreds of clinical trials that provide evidence on the positive effects of red light therapy on arthritic symptoms, especially joint pain and inflammation. Below we explore the therapeutic results these studies are having on osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as hand, knee, wrist, and spinal pain.

Below we list multiple studies showing effects of red light therapy on osteoarthritis.

✅ Osteoarthritis Knee Pain. A number of studies carried out between 2015 and 2018 show a reduction in pain due to knee osteoarthritis with the application of red light therapy.
The findings showed that red light therapy increased the patients range of motion and functionality. [4][5][6]

One of these being a 2018 Brazilian study that indicated that exercise and stretching coupled with red light therapy was a more effective treatment of pain than stretching alone for osteoarthritis patients. [2][3]
A similar study demonstrated that a 3-month period of managing knee osteoarthritis with stretching and red light therapy led to pain reduction and an improvement in the patient’s function. [3]

✅ Cartilage Regeneration. In a 2017 a study published in Lasers in Medicine, knee cartilage of lower mammals were examined. The findings demonstrated that there was an enhancement in knee cartilage regeneration. In summary, the root cause of knee osteoarthritis was treated, rather than its symptoms. [9]

✅ Treating Meniscal Tears. In 2013, researchers from Europe carried out a clinical trial aimed at examining the effect of red light therapy on the pain levels of patients with meniscal pathology – a control group was placed on placebo.

The results showed “Treatment with light therapy was associated with a significant decrease of symptoms compared to the placebo group. RLT should be considered in patients with meniscal tears who do not wish to undergo surgery.”[10]

✅ General Knee Pain. Red light therapy assists in restoring the joint structure and function. A systematic review published in the Australian Journal of Physiotherapy examined 11 clinical trials that demonstrated RLT reduces pain and improves health status in chronic joint disorders. [11]

✅ Hand Osteoarthritis in Women. A meta-analysis published in Lasers in Medical Science (2015) reported a significant effect of ultrasound and red light therapy in the management of hand osteoarthritis in females. With a major reduction in pain being one of the benefits. The systematic review notes that light therapy is highly beneficial in the treatment of arthritis affecting the knee, neck, jaw, back, and other areas. [12].

✅ Bony outgrowths on the Hand. A 2016 study in Lasers in Surgical Science investigated the effect of light therapy on bony outgrowth and inflammation. The findings demonstrate that red light therapy led to a significant increase in the range of motion and pain reduction associated with these secondary conditions. [13].

✅ Red Light Therapy For Spine Pain. Recent studies suggest red light therapy is beneficial in the management of spinal conditions such as Ankylosing spondylitis. A 2016 study conducted on patients with ankylosing spondylitis indicated that the combination of RLT and stretching is more effective than stretching alone. [14].

✅ Rheumatoid Arthritis. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis were have had the most outstanding findings. There was a 70% decrease in pain when red light therapy was applied compared to the instances where placebo therapy was used.

✅ Morning Stiffness: Red light therapy positively affects hand flexibility. The morning stiffness only lasted for an average 27.5 minutes when RLT was used and tip to palm flexibility increased.[16]

The huge body of evidence derived from these studies indicates that red light therapy is a safe and an effective means of managing arthritis.

Bottom Line: Red Light Therapy is a Compelling Natural Treatment For Arthritis and Joint Pain.

How can you incorporate RLT into your routine to combat Joint Pain and Arthritis?

To use Infraredi for Arthritis treatment, set yourself up comfortably in front of your device. Ensure you are positioned to have the light facing your painful joint, roughly 10cm away from the device. Turn on your device once comfortable. As the red light penetrates your skin you feel a gentle soothing warmth. Stay in front of the light for 5-10 minutes depending on pain. Do this daily for the best results.

The most exciting news is that Emerging Research Shows Light Therapy Can Treat Root Causes of Arthritis!

A 2018 experimental study demonstrates that red light therapy targets cellular function within the joints. Hence, it focuses on the root cause of arthritis.

In the last quarter of 2018, Brazilian researchers in the field of photomedicine published a study which indicated that cytokine levels were reduced and immune function boosted on the application of red light therapy. They concluded that light therapy alters the pathway for inflammation caused by arthritis, and increases the rate at which inflammation is reduced via immune cells photobiostimulation. [15]

Decades of Positive Research on Red Light Therapy and Arthritis

There is a wealth of literature that examines the effect of red light therapy on arthritic symptoms. The great news is that you can get started today!

Scientific Sources and Medical References:

[1] What Is Arthritis? Arthritis Foundation.

[2] de Paula Gomes CAF, et al. Incorporation of photobiomodulation therapy into a therapeutic exercise program for knee osteoarthritis: A placebo-controlled, randomized, clinical trial. 2018 Oct;50(8):819-828.

[3] Paolillo FR, et al. Ultrasound plus low-level laser therapy for knee osteoarthritis rehabilitation: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Rheumatology International. 2018 May;38(5):785-793.

[4] Angelova A, Ilieva EM, et al. Effectiveness ofHigh-Intensity Laser Therapy for Reduction of Pain in Knee Osteoarthritis. Pain Research and Management. 2016;2016:9163618.

[5] Fukuda VO, et al. Short-Term Efficacy of Low-Level Laser Therapy in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Clinical Trial. 2015 Dec 6;46(5):526-33.

[6] Alayat MS, Aly TH, et al. Efficacy of pulsed Nd: YAG laser in the treatment of patients with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial. Lasers in Medical Science. 2017 Apr;32(3):503-511.

[7] Alfredo PP, Bjordal JM, et al. Efficacy of low-level laser therapy associated with exercises in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind study. Clinical Rehabilitation. Jun 2012; 26(6): 523-33.

[8] Bjordal JM, et al. A systematic review of low-level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy. 2003;49(2):107-16.

[9] S GN, et al. Radiological and biochemical effects (CTX-II, MMP-3, 8, and 13) of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in chronic osteoarthritis in Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia. Lasers in Medical Science. 2017 Feb;32(2):297-303.

[10] Malliaropoulos N, et al. Low-level laser therapy in meniscal pathology: a double-blinded placebo-controlled trial. Lasers in Medical Science. 2013 Jul;28(4):1183-8.

[11] Bjordal JM, Couppe C, et al. A systematic review of low-level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy. 2003; 49(2): 107-16.

[12] Paolillo AR, Paolillo FR, et al. Synergic effects of ultrasound and laser on the pain relief in women with hand osteoarthritis. Lasers in Medical Science. Jan 2015; 30(1): 279-86.

[13] Baltzer AW, Ostapczuk MS, Stosch D. Positive effects of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) on Bouchard's and Heberden's osteoarthritis. Lasers in Surgical Medicine. 2016 Jul; 48(5):498-504.

[14] Stasinopoulos D, et al. LLLT for the management of patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Lasers in Medical Science. 2016 Apr;31(3):459-69.

[15] Dos Anjos LMJ et al. Modulation of the immune response to induced-arthritis by low-level laser therapy. Journal of Biophotonics. 2018 Sept 11:e201800120.

[16] Brosseau L, Welch V, et al. Low-level laser therapy for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis. The Journal of Rheumatology. Aug 2000; 27(8): 1961-9.