Best Red Light Therapy for Pain: How to choose the best device

Oct 11, 2021 | Laurie Velger

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

Why Use Red Light Therapy for Pain?

Using red light therapy for pain can form part of a healthy lifestyle. Light therapy is great or supporting bodily balance as well as improving the efficiency of cellular functions. Like exercise, nutritious eating, and restful sleep, healthy light exposure can have a big impact on managing inflammation and pain all over the body. Which type of red light therapy pad you will need will largely depend upon where the pain is located on your body.

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Red Light Therapy for Pain: How to Select the Best Pad Sizes and Shapes for Your Needs

What’s your description of the perfect pain relief device? For most people, it would probably be non-invasive, painless, fast-acting, effective, relaxing, dependable, have no known negative side effects, and be very simple and easy to self-administer.

And it would be a plus if you could watch television, listen to music, read a book, talk on the phone, or work on your computer while the device was working on you. So here’s some good news: LED Red Light Therapy is all of this and much more!

Foot Ankle callout
Foot and Ankle Therapy Pad For Pain

In addition to providing fast, effective, and dependable pain-relief, LED Red Light Therapy for pain also increases circulation and triggers, accelerates, and supports your body’s own innate healing processes!

So if you would like to experience the many benefits of LED Light Therapy for yourself, but perhaps are a little perplexed about which light therapy pads to purchase. This information will help you decide on the best red light therapy devices for your needs.

Red Light Therapy Pads That Give Effective Coverage

Using red light therapy for pain is one of the best ways to combat To be most effective, the red light therapy pad(s) in your system should cover the entire area that needs pain relief and increased circulation.

For example, a large red light pad would be best if you need therapy over a larger area — perhaps your back, hip, or shoulder. A long thin LED pad can be wrapped around a joint, hand, or thigh, or cover the upper or lower spine.

And if you are one of millions who suffer from pain in the lower extremities, pads in a boot-like shape would be your best option to relieve foot pain using red light therapy.

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Two Questions When Choosing The Best Light Therapy Pad for Pain

The primary question to ask yourself is: “Where do I need pain relief the most?” And the second question is: “Do I have pain anywhere else in my body?” It is important to take all areas of your body that need pain relief into

LEd Red Light Therapy Shoulder Pad Gallery
Shoulder Pad for Pain Relief

consideration when choosing pads. So, while a small, square pad would be fine for treating the back of your neck if this is your most painful area, it might not provide the best coverage for also treating your lower back. A medium or a long thin pad would be a better choice for providing enough coverage to treat both areas.

When using red light therapy for pain, ensure that you select pads that are not only comfortable but also flexible, for pad flexibility allows versatility — being able to use the same pad for therapy on many parts of your body, in case you ever experience a future issue or injury.

Table Of Using Red Light Therapy For Various Types of Pain

Although pad sizes and shapes vary with each manufacturer, here are the best light therapy devices for treating different body areas. HealthLight, a leading American manufacturer of medical-grade FDA-cleared LED Light Therapy devices, makes pads in all of these sizes and shapes:

the best Red Light Therapy for pain Usage Table
Suggested usage for the best red light therapy pads for pain

* The pad number refers to the number of LED diodes present on the pad.
* *Some manufacturers offer single and dual boot systems.

Light Therapy for Pain Relief

Exposing your skin to a lamp, device or laser with red light is how you start using red light therapy for pain. A 2015 study written by Michael R. Hamblin and James Carroll (two pioneers in Phototherapy treatment and PBM research) with co-authors Roberta T. Chow and Howard B. Cotler, concluded that “…Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) is beneficial for pain relief and can accelerate the body’s ability to heal itself. LLLT has a long history and strong basic science evidence, which supports its use in pain management.”[1]   More specifically, they determined that Near Infrared Therapy, which includes phototherapy treatments using certain wavelengths of LED light can effectively treat all causes of musculoskeletal pain. The overall positive short term clinical studies in addition to strong laboratory studies should give the clinical confidence that LLLT may be beneficial for many individuals suffering from musculoskeletal pain, regardless of the cause.”[2]

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Like any effective chronic pain treatment program, using Light Therapy for pain relief can produce benefits that are short, medium, and long-term.  In the short-term, pain relief may occur within minutes of applying LED Light Therapy while in the medium-term there can be a decrease in inflammation and a reduction of pain within hours to days.  And results can last far longer.


“The long term effects of LLLT occur within a week or two and can last for months and sometimes years as a result of improved tissue healing.”[3]  For example, “A review of 16 randomized clinical trials including a total of 820 patients found that LLLT reduces acute neck pain immediately after treatment, and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain.”[4]  Dr. Shelley reports that the majority of his patients realize improvement within the first two weeks after using red light therapy for pain.

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Keys to using Red Light Therapy For Pain Relief Successfully

  1. Tailor Your Program: When it comes to treating chronic pain, treatment should always be based on individual patient need.  “We tailor the therapy to what is most beneficial for the patient,” says Shelley. “We get a feel for what they are looking for and what they want.”
  2. Create a Corresponding In-Home Program: McKay brought Light Therapy into his clinic specifically to give his patients a way at home to advance their healing progress between office visits. Patients self-administer Light Therapy daily using systems purchased from Dr. McKay for in-home use. They also have an exercise routine.  He has found that “homework” helps his patients take a vested interest in their own healing. In-clinic, he will explain how to use LED Light Therapy for pain relief and instruct patients on how to use it on themselves, but clinic visits are for adjustments and other therapies.  Dr. McKay feels that Light Therapy preps the body for chiropractic adjustment, explaining that “if the patient’s body is prepped, then I can do more for them during each clinic visit.”
  3. Make  Therapy Systems Easily Available for Purchase: Both McKay and Dr. Shelley sell Light Therapy systems for chronic pain to their patients.  Although it is not standard procedure at Dr. Shelley’s clinic, “In a percentage of cases I will recommend in-home purchase of Light Therapy for pain relief when it looks like the patient needs more than just in-clinic treatment.”  Make it easy and convenient for patients to acquire their own systems. This will not only benefit your patients, but provide an extra source of revenue for your clinic, as most manufacturers allow chiropractors to purchase systems at wholesale to resell to patients at a profit.
  4. Create a Streamlined Option for Lower or Fixed Income Patients: When a patient cannot go forward with the prescribed therapy plan due to financial reasons, offer them a partial package option. Allow them to buy their own Light Therapy system, as well as receive guidance on diet and exercise, at a lower price point, with in-clinic adjustments if covered under their insurance.

Studies on Red Light Therapy for Pain Relief

Although they recommended that further randomized controlled studies be completed to confirm their positive assessment, a German study done in November, 2017 on red light therapy for pain concluded that “Low Level Laser Therapy shows potential as an effective, noninvasive, safe and cost-efficient means to treat and prevent a variety of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.”[5]  An extensive list of chronic and acute conditions respond well to LLLT and LED Light Therapy, allowing your practice to extend into niche market areas, such as peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and plantar fasciitis:

Within this study of using light therapy for pain relief, it is concluded that “Acute orthopedic conditions such as sprains, strains, post-surgical pain, a whiplash injury, muscular back pain, cervical or lumbar radiculopathy, tendinitis, and chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, frozen shoulder, neck and back pain, epicondylitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinopathy, fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, post tibial fracture surgery and chronic regional pain syndrome are amenable to Low Level Laser Therapy…Neuropathic pain conditions can also be treated, such as post herpetic neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia, and diabetic neuropathy.”[6]

The Bottom Line

When it comes to using red light therapy for pain, our pads will help you restore function and help you to maintain a comfortable and active lifestyle.

LED Red Light Therapy Knee Pad Gallery
Knee Pad

You can be assured of fast-acting relief of pain, soreness, and stiffness, as well as a boost in circulation and the acceleration and support of your body’s own innate healing processes wherever you place your LED Light Therapy Pads.

Purchasing an LED Light Therapy system from HealthLight will give you and your family (or your patients) fast-acting, dependable pain relief now and for years to come.




[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. 7.

[2] Ibid., p. 6.

[3] Ibid., p. 5.

[4] 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. 9 of NIH Public Access version.

[5] Baltzer, AWA., et al. Low level laser therapy : A narrative literature review on the efficacy in the treatment of rheumatic orthopaedic conditions. Z Rheumatol. 2017 Nov;76(9):806-812. doi: 10.1007/s00393-017-0309-1, p. 2. [PubMed: 28466181]

[6]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. 4.


Start Your Pain Relief Journey Today

Contact us now and speak with a light therapy expert. They are here to help you find relief at home with soothing red light therapy.

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