Light Therapy Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most commonly asked questions about light therapy.
How does light therapy work?
Light therapy works by increasing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) synthesis in the mitochondria, activating the electron transport system, and many other biochemical and biophysical reactions in the tissue.
Decades of research have found that certain wavelengths of light within the blue, red, and infrared bands can be beneficial to living tissue.
- The light triggers the release of nitric oxide from blood vessels and red blood cells.
- Nitric oxide causes local vasodilation that lasts several hours after the therapy session has ended.
- Vasodilation significantly improves blood flow.
- Improving blood flow promotes positive change in patients, lessens pain and helps nerves to begin to carry sensations again.
What is NIR used for?
- Relaxation of muscles
- Relief from muscle spasms
- Aches/stiffness caused by arthritis
How does light therapy relieve pain?
- Increased nitric oxide production
- Nitric oxide has both a direct and indirect impact on pain sensation. As a neurotransmitter, it is essential for normal nerve cell action potential in impulse transmission activity.
- Indirectly, the vasodilatation effect of nitric oxide enhances nerve cell perfusion and oxygenation.
- Increase in beta-endorphins
- The localized and systemic increase of endogenous peptides after Light Therapy irradiation has been clinically reported in multiple studies to promote pain reduction.
- Decreased bradykinin levels
- Bradykinins elicit pain by stimulating nociceptive afferents in the skin and viscera, mitigation of elevated levels through Light Therapy can result in pain reduction.
- Ion channel normalization
- Photobiomodulation promotes normalization in Ca++, NA+ and K+ concentrations, resulting in pain reduction as a result of these ion concentration shifts.
- Increased nerve cell action potentials
- Healthy nerve cells tend to operate at about -60mV, and fire at about -20 mV. Compromised cell membranes have a lowered threshold as their resting potentials average around the -40 mV range.
- That means that normal non-noxious activities produce pain.
- Light Therapy normalizes the body’s electrical system and/or charging cells back to -60 mV range.
- Blocked depolarization of C-fiber afferent nerves
- Pain blocking effects of light therapy can be pronounced, particularly in low velocity neural pathways, such as non-myelinated afferent axons from nociceptors.
- Light irradiation suppresses the excitation of these fibers in the afferent sensory pathway.
- Increased release of acetylcholine
- Increasing the available acetylcholine, Light Therapy helps in normalizing nerve signal transmission in the autonomic, somatic and sensory neural pathways.
- Axonal sprouting and nerve cell regeneration
- Several studies have documented the ability of Light Therapy to induce axonal sprouting and some nerve regeneration in damaged nerve tissues.
- Where pain sensation is being magnified due to nerve structure damage, cell regeneration and sprouting may assist in reducing pain.
How does light therapy increase circulation?
One of the most dramatic aspects of light therapy is its triggering of the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the body’s natural vasodilator – it widens the blood vessels and capillaries.
After just 20 minutes of light therapy, blood flow is increased to nerves and other tissues, and this boost in local circulation lasts for several hours.
Nitric oxide is also a messenger molecule that triggers healing processes in the body. By increasing the production of nitric oxide, infrared and red light therapy increases circulation, speeds healing and relieves pain.
Can I use multiple modalities at the same time?
Yes, multiple modalities should provide a better and quicker resolution to patient complaint(s).
Physical therapy paired with light therapy can provide patients even greater success.
Qualified physical therapists give professional instruction and design the program to increase range of motion, strength, balance for a better overall quality of life.
Other modalities such as nutrition, vibration, chiropractic, massage, electrical stimulation, and PEMF are sometimes combined with light therapy.
Are there any side effects to NIR?
There are no known side effects. Light therapy is painless and easy.
However, keep away from the thyroid and uterus if pregnant. Also, do not use to treat active cancer.
How long until my patient sees results?
The answer is depends on disease state and condition.
For acute conditions: we get customers starting to feel a difference in the first few treatments.
For chronic conditions: we find the level of max improvement is between 24-36 treatments. Ongoing maintenance treatments will be needed.
How frequently can the pads be used?
1-2 times per day, 2-3 hours apart, minimum of 3 times per week.
What do the light therapy pads feel like?
A slightly warm, comforting feeling. The pads operate near body temperature. There should be no discomfort.
How come some of the lights seem to be on?
You can see blue/red lights, but you can’t see infrared lights. It might not look like they are on, but they are actually on. If you took your cell phone and looked at the pads through the camera, you’ll actually be able to see the infrared lights on.