Those minor muscle and joint pains, those aches from arthritis, those periodic muscle spasms—did you ever think you could get them to see the light? Thanks to light therapy for pain relief, you can. Literally.
Light pain relief involves infrared light energy trained on the affected area. Infrared light meets your blood’s hemoglobin and releases nitric oxide, which helps increase blood circulation temporarily by dilating blood vessels and allowing oxygen to return to muscle tissue. Nitrous oxide also affects your nerves, calming them enough to lower or even to rid the area of pain.
This type of therapy is not restricted to pain relief, however. Some light therapies are considered effective in treating Parkinson’s disease symptoms; some are thought to be ideal for healing small wounds; some are thought to be effective in controlling acne.
There are a few devices you can buy. One is the Pro Model 500, a portable, LED device that resembles a common flashlight and includes three wavelengths (infrared, red, green) and a detailed book on how to apply polychromatic infrared diode therapy. The slightly more upscale Model 900 features nine LEDs (five infrared, four red) to the 500’s five, but offers only infrared or red light options.
Another hand-held device is Light Relief, which has a hands-free strapping option, a graphic settings display, an array of fifty-nine infrared and other colored light-emitting diodes (24 infrared, 31 red, four blue), and a heat button to adjust the comfort level of the light application.
Buying a light therapy device entails certain precautions, however. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is enough contradictory evidence about its real effectiveness that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve it for certain maladies such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In addition, patients who are vulnerable to phototoxicity (fluorescent molecule illumination that can kill some cells) or mania, or have otherwise photosensitive skin conditions are usually advised to avoid the technique.
Light therapy pain relief devices can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription in drugstores, online, or in some retail stores including a few hardware sellers.
If you seek pain relief, you should be sure that the light therapy device you want to buy—particularly if infrared therapy is part of its package—has been tested thoroughly for safety and effectiveness. No two such devices work quite the same, so it is a very good idea to check with your doctor before you buy one.