Patients Are Using Red Light Therapy for Chronic Pain

Jun 4, 2020 | Laurie Velger

Medically reviewed by Karen Wolters, RN and Joanna Fearnley, LPN

LED Red Light Therapy - Back pain relief

Many are turning to red light therapy for chronic pain. According to a 2015 study, “One out of three Americans is affected by chronic pain annually.”[1] So for those searching for pain relief, NIR (near-infrared) Red Light Therapy, a type of phototherapy treatment, is providing much needed help. Red light therapy is non-invasive, has no known adverse side effects, and is an effective all-natural alternative to both pharmaceutical drugs (which may be costly and addictive) and surgery (which may also be costly as well as painful, and require weeks of recuperation).

Stimulation of the Body’s Natural Healing

Whether you’re sitting or laying down, the red light therapy devices work their magic, while operating at body temperature and kicking your body’s natural healing processes into high gear. As light penetrates the body, a photochemical reaction is induced in the cells, a process referred to as “photobiomodulation” or “PBM”. Cascades of therapeutic chemical processes that support the body’s own innate healing capabilities are being released. “Radiation of tissue with light causes an increase in mitochondrial products such as ATP, NADH, protein, and RNA.”[2] ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) provides cellular energy and also fights oxidative stress. Nitric oxide is also released, which plays an important role in phototherapy pain relief.

Red Light Therapy – Simple, Easy, and Effective

This very simple, very easy to administer phototherapy may seem too good to be true. But thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies over more than forty years prove over and over again that red light therapy works very effectively to improve circulation and reduce the pain caused by a multitude of health conditions. After twenty minutes of red light therapy, pain drastically decreases or disappears for up to several hours.

LED Red Light Therapy - How it works


The infographic above developed by HealthLight illustrates how red light therapy is used for chronic pain.

A flexible neoprene pad with near-infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is placed on the body wherever increased circulation and pain relief are needed. The black band at the top of the graphic containing two rows of large red dots represents the red light therapy device. The rows of red dots are the diodes which emit photons (particles of light) of very specific wavelengths and intensity. However, what appears to be empty space between each set of red diodes is not actually empty – there are diodes there as well that are emitting NIR light that is invisible to the human eye.

The layer immediately below the black pad represents the epidermis (the outer layer of cells that compose the skin.) A few photons will be absorbed into the epidermis, but most will pass through to tissues below. The downward-pointing red arrows indicate the penetrating action of the light. Photons of red light will be absorbed primarily in the deeper layers of the skin and soft tissues. But NIR light will reach farther into the tissues.

Along the way, many photons of both red and NIR light will trigger the release of nitric oxide from the blood vessel lining (endothelium) and red blood cells, delivering more oxygenated blood to the nerves, increasing circulation which helps reduce inflammation which reduces pain. Nitric oxide is the body’s natural vasodilator. Vasodilation “increases the availability of oxygen to treated cells, and also allows for greater traffic of immune cells into tissue. These two effects contribute to accelerated healing.”[3] This is the precise reason why more are using red light therapy for chronic pain.

As Len Saputo, MD further explains: “Whenever an infra-red light ray hits a blood vessel wall, it causes an instant release of a compound called nitric oxide. And nitric oxide causes instantaneous pop-open of a blood vessel. So, suddenly, you have a change in circulation that is dramatic… It also causes a reduction in inflammation that happens very quickly. It increases lymphatic drainage; it increases the activity of white cells so they clean up debris faster; and it has an amazing effect on nerves. It causes nerve fibers that are pain fibers to calm down and not cause so much pain. There’s hardly a kind of pain that doesn’t respond to infra-red light therapy.”[4]


LED Red Light Therapy - Back pain relief 2

Try Red Light Therapy for Chronic Pain

If you are suffering from acute or chronic pain, consider giving red light therapy devices a chance to make a difference in your life. Having HealthLight’s Express At-Home LED Red Light Therapy equipment immediately available in the comfort of your home will bring you and your family years of improved circulation and pain relief. Or, if you are a healthcare practitioner, consider adding HealthLight’s Clinical Line of LED Red Light Therapy pads and controllers to your clinic’s treatment menu. Practitioners may also sell the Express system to their patients. HealthLight offers a variety of affordable, easy-to-use systems to meet all needs and help people everywhere achieve a better quality of life.


[1] Cotler, Howard B. et al. The Use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) For Musculoskeletal Pain. MOJ Orthop Rheumatol. 2015 ; 2(5): . doi:10.15406/mojor.2015.02.00068, p. 1.

[2] Chung, Hoon, et al. The Nuts and Bolts of Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy. Ann Biomed Eng. 2012 February; 40(2): 516–533. doi:10.1007/s10439-011-0454-7, p. 5 of NIH Public Access version.

[3] Chung, Hoon, et al. The Nuts and Bolts of Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy. Ann Biomed Eng. 2012 February; 40(2): 516–533. doi:10.1007/s10439-011-0454-7, p. 6 of NIH Public Access version.

[4] Saputo, L. Infrared Light Therapy by Len Saputo, MD,, 12 July 2017.

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