Red Light Therapy for Arthritis:
Shining for Stronger Bones
Musculoskeletal disorders represent a global threat to healthy aging and are the most common cause of injury. One significant musculoskeletal disorder contributing to the global disability burden is arthritis diseases. According to a Journal from BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, Arthritis – specifically, Osteoarthritis, have increased by 75% from 1990 to 2013.
In combination with an increasing arthritis prevalence, people are under the threat of risk factors after prolonged exposure to arthritis.
ARTHRITIS IN AUSTRALIA
Arthritis is an umbrella term for various inflammatory symptoms affecting the bones, muscles, and joints. Arthritis commonly results in pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness of the affected joints. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout are the common types of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage – the hard slippery tissue that covers the end of the bones – to break down. At the same time, Rheumatoid arthritis triggers the immune system to attack the joint, beginning from its lining. On the other hand, gout is caused by uric acid crystals that form when there is too much uric acid in your blood.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, almost one in three Australians (29%) had a musculoskeletal condition from 2017 to 2018. It is an estimated 7 million people have arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, and ‘other unknown’ affect an estimated 3.6 million (15%) Australians.
On a self-reported data of ABS National Health Survey, Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common forms of arthritis. Approximately 2.2 million Australians (9.3%) have osteoarthritis, affecting 12% of females and 6% of males in 2017-2018, while rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 456,000 Australians. Affecting 2.3% of females and 1.5% of males.
On the same reported data from ABS National and Health Survey and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, the prevalence of arthritis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was 11% – affecting about 85,600 people – including about 8,800 who live in remote areas (5.9% of the remote indigenous population).
BENEFICIAL WAVELENGTHS FOR ARTHRITIS
In 1903, a Nobel Prize of Medicine was given to a scientist named Niels Finsen for his use of light therapy as a treatment. Red light therapy was primarily used in Eastern Europe to treat chronic pain, arthritis, and associated conditions.
The difference between red light and infrared light is the depth in which they can penetrate the body. Wavelengths higher than 740nm penetrate better than wavelengths lower than 740nm. The wavelength at which the light penetrates the body is significant in treating arthritis. Red light at a lower power may be effective for arthritis as it essentially utilises infrared wavelengths for this very reason and the studies comparing red and infrared wavelengths demonstrate more significant results from the application of infrared.
According to lightwave therapy principles, Red Light (wavelength 630nm-640nm) penetrates tissues superficially, with approximately 80% of the energy absorbed at the first two centimetres. It causes a significant effect on mitochondrial stimulation, which increases the production of ATP and boosts fibroblast activity. Red light increases cellular turnover, superficial circulation, and anti-inflammatory emission.
On the other hand, Infrared Light (IR) (wavelength 800nm-00nm) penetrates tissues at a greater depth than blue and red light. 50% of the energy penetrates up to 8 centimetres and decreases to 1% at 20 centimetres (NASA study). Infrared light stimulates the NaK+ pump, which increases cell membrane permeability, facilitating the equilibrium of cellular pH while increasing nutritional absorption and elimination of waste products.
Collagen bundles and elastin fibres are proven to increase when red light therapy and infrared light therapy are used in conjunction. However, these two wavelengths should not be used simultaneously because they tend to cancel out each other.
Pulsing wavelengths between 10Hz – 10,000Hz affects the tissues differently. Slow pulses reduce nerve sensitivity by decreasing the production of Brinikin Lucitrin, which is necessary for pain signal transmission. Medium range pulses stimulate endorphin production, while intense pulses stimulate mitosis and cellular repair.
Applying the appropriate dosage is essential to receive the maximum benefits from red light therapy treatments. Deeper penetration requires a higher wavelength dose, while superficial treatments require a lesser dose. To ensure therapeutic penetration on the joints, 620nm-660nm is recommended for the red light, and 800nm to 850nm on infrared light.
RED LIGHT THERAPY AND KNEE, HANDS, WRIST PAIN, AND SPINE
Pain is an essential survival mechanism that motivates us to protect ourselves from harm. However, the development of treatment-resistant neuropathic pain brings no advantage to the sufferer and lowers the quality of life.
In 2018, two Brazillian studies showed that red light therapy plus exercise and stretching is significantly more effective at treating osteo-related knee pain than just stretching and exercise alone. One study concluded that the patient’s knees “showed reduced pain and increased physical functionality after three months of stretching and light therapy.
Osteoarthritis Knee Pain
Since 2015, a significant number of studies have proven that natural red light therapy reduces knee pain from osteoarthritis.
Increased Range of Motion
Recent studies have also shown that red light therapy reduces knee pain and increases its functionality and range of motion.
A study conducted by Lasers in Medical Science in 2017 assessed knee cartilage in animal studies and found that red light significantly reduces pain and improves knee cartilage regeneration through “biochemical changes”. In other words, red light therapy also addresses the root causes of the pain.
Treating Meniscus Tears
In 2013, European researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in patients with meniscal pathology (meniscus tears). They concluded: “Treatment with light therapy was associated with a significant decrease of symptoms compared to the placebo group: it should be considered in patients with meniscal tears who do not wish to undergo surgery.”
General Knee Pain
Red light therapy can improve general joint problems that are unrelated to arthritis as well. In a systematic review in The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 11 clinical trials of red light therapy for chronic knee disorders have concluded that light therapy reduces pain while improving overall health function.
Bouchard’s & Herbenden’s
A 2016 German study published in Lasers in Surgical Medicine analysed red light therapy’s effects on the hands of 34 people with bony outgrowth and swelling conditions known as Bouchard’s and Herbenden’s nodes. Researchers found that red light therapy significantly reduces pain, ring size, and increased range of motion, creating a significant improvement.
Red Light Therapy for Spine Pain
Recent research shows that red light therapy is showing potential in treating spinal joint pain from conditions like Ankylosing Spondylitis. A 2016 European study concluded that the combination of red light therapy and stretching exercises decreases spinal pain more effectively than just placebo therapy with stretching.
Decades of research have shown that there have been numerous positive red light therapy and arthritis in recent years. It makes up a massive base of evidence favouring the therapy as a safe and effective treatment for arthritis pain.
RED LIGHT THERAPY ON ARTHRITIS INFLAMMATION
There is a common misconception that all types of inflammations are wrong but that is not true. Some inflammation is good because it means that your body is fighting against invaders, protecting and healing the affected area.
When the immune system is triggered, it releases white blood cells to the affected area. In addition, tissues accumulate plasma proteins which leads to fluid build-up and causes the area to swell. Acute inflammation decreases once the area is healed, but chronic inflammation can persist for months or even years. Chronic inflammation happens when white blood cells attack healthy tissue and organs.
Chronic inflammation is linked to various diseases such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Autoimmune disorders
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Dr Hamblin, one of the world’s leading photo-medicine researchers, says that red light therapy is beneficial in reducing inflammation. Red light therapy can reduce discomfort and pain while speeding up the healing process. Even professional athletes and doctors use red light therapy to enhance recovery on sport-related injuries.
“I’m an amateur boxer and my body gets pretty sore after my intense sessions. I’ve incorporated recovery days but I still felt quite stiff so my coach recommended me to try red light therapy and so far I can say it has helped me with my recovery time.” – Lee on LEREDD MINI PRO Review from December 7, 2020
RED LIGHT THERAPY AND COLLAGEN PRODUCTION
Collagen is the primary structural protein in our body. It is the main ingredient in our connective tissues consisting of tightly bound amino acids to put our bodies together. There are over 20 different types of collagens, but 90% of it is called Type I collagen, which is made of densely packed fibres and is a critical component of human skin, tendons, bones, ligaments, and teeth.
Fibroblasts are cells that use amino acids to create collagen in our bodies. Its energy comes from the ATP production in the mitochondria of our cells.
Red and infrared wavelengths of light stimulate the mitochondria. The red light as a booster, the mitochondria can take light, oxygen, and nutrients from what we eat and turn them into energy through the process of cellular respiration. The increased energy from the mitochondria allows the fibroblast to create more natural collagen.
Across several clinical trials, the results show that red light therapy boosts collagen production without detrimental side effects. This leads to many health benefits, including faster muscle recovery and stronger joint and skeletal health.
RED LIGHT THERAPY AND BONE STRENGTH
Bone remodelling occurs throughout our lifetime by intercellular interaction between osteoblast, which are the cells that form new bones, and osteoclast, which are the large multinucleated cell responsible for the dissolution and absorption of the bone. The imbalance between the two would cause bone abnormalities, including osteoporosis, osteomalacia, paget’s disease, and osteolytic tumours, mainly caused by the increased osteoclast activity, causing the bone to deteriorate. Drugs and hormone treatments have been widely used to treat these illnesses. However, drug treatments may have undesirable side effects in the long run.
A study done in 2013 revealed that 635 nm LED irradiation may play a pivotal role in regulating bone remodelling. According to the study, 365 nm LED regulator at two mW/cm2 at 72 hours significantly subdued the osteoclast formation. Osteoclast formation also decreased by wavelengths 407, 471, and 522 nm, but the study revealed that although osteoclast formation decreased on these wavelengths, it was proven that it is because of cell death. On increased dosage, osteoclast formation was not affected by wavelengths 651, 723, 822, and 932 nm.
Moreover, 635 nm LED irradiation at 4, and 8 mW/cm2 dramatically inhibited osteoclast formation. However, four mW/cm2 sightly affect cells success and effectiveness while eight mW/cm2 significantly affect the cells.
To control the osteoclast formation is to control the absorption. 635 nm LED light inhibits osteoclast resorption in different cell types, disorganising the osteoclasts’ cytoskeleton.
In another study done by researchers from San Pao, Brazil, red and near-infrared light significantly increased the degree of grey level (mineralisation) in groups treated with laser in seven days. After 14 days, the group treated with red and infrared light showed higher bone density.
High bone density benefits of red light therapy include the following:
- Increases bone mineral density and bone structure
Several research shows benefits for improving osteoporosis, a boost in osteogenesis, increased stress load, and preserved vertebrae strength.
- Strengthen bones
Compared to a bone not treated with red light, increased osteoblast creation, collagen ejection, and three bone neoformation is observed in bones treated with red light. It also increases maximum bone tolerance.
- Improves healing
Accelerated healing in extraction sites and bone fracture defects.
- Reduces swelling from bone injuries
A proven anti-inflammatory treatment indicated by the FDA is shown to curb bone swelling in facial bone fractures.
- Enhances overall bone health
Increases natural collagen production, which is essential to healthy bones.
SCIENTIFIC STUDIES ON RED LIGHT THERAPY AND ARTHRITIS
Red light therapy treats inflamed cells or tissue with photosynthesising agents and exposes them to specific wavelengths of light.
In a systematic review entitled ‘Effects of Light Therapy on Osteoarthritis and Its Sequelae in Aging and Older Adults’, twenty-two randomised controlled trials were done on multiple pathogens, including knee osteoarthritis, hip arthroplasty, and hand osteoarthritis. It is concluded there is evidence that light therapy may provide statistically significant improvements in pain, function, quality of life.
In a study done by David Ip in 2015 entitled ‘Does addition of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in conservative care of knee arthritis successfully postpone the need for joint replacement?’. He studied a population consisting of a series of consecutive unselected 100 elderly patients with a mean age of 65 and with documented radiographic changes of the tri-compartmental disease of the knee. The results showed a significant positive clinical response in patients treated with the conservative treatment protocol that incorporated low-level laser therapy. Red light therapy as a treatment protocol may benefit patients who are reluctant to undergo surgery. It also benefitted the elderly who have high operative risks and comorbidities.
In another study done by Anna Angelova and Elena M. Ilieva in 2016, they studied 72 patients with knee osteoporosis with the duration of symptoms over four years and x-ray stages of II and III. At the end of the therapy, there was a statistically significant reduction in pain at rest, pain on palpation, pain during movement, and pain in dolorimetry. The results demonstrated immediate solid, cumulative, and long-lasting (for three months) effects of high-intensity laser therapy on pain in knee osteoarthritis.
Sixty-seven male participants enrolled in a study by Mohamed Salaheldien Mohamed Alayat, Tarek Helmy Ahmed Aly, Aly Elsayed Mohamed Elsayed, and Ammar Suliman Mohamed Fadil, entitled ‘Efficacy of pulsed Nd: YAG laser in the treatment of patients with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial’. The study results showed that low-light laser therapy is considered an effective physical therapy modality with proven effectiveness in back, neck and knee osteoarthritis. It was shown that combined laser therapy with medicines and exercises is more effective than medicines and exercises alone.
In addition to that, a 2018 study conducted by Fernanda Rossi Paolillo, Alessandra Rossi Paolillo, Jessica Patrícia João, Daniele Frascá, Marcelo Duchêne, Herbert Alexandre João, and Vanderlei Salvador Bagnato, ultrasound and low-light laser therapy tother can reduce pain and improve functional performance in women with knee osteoarthritis. It also has no placebo effect.
Red light therapy is still not considered a cure for osteoarthritis, but it significantly reduces inflammation and pain when used as a treatment. Though these studies suggest using low-light laser therapy, similar benefits can be attained using LEREDD’s red LED lights.
Red light therapy: A Shining Solution for Bone Problems
Clinical trials and studies have shown that red light therapy is a shining solution for bone problems. It is proven to reduce pain, swelling, inflammation and help with the loss of mobility. With its non-invasive treatment and tons of health benefits, red light therapy might be the solution to your brittle problems.
It’s time to shine a light on a better you. Check out our home page to learn more about our product offering.