Red Light Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis: Reducing Inflammation and Improving Mobility
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Red Light Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis: Reducing Inflammation and Improving Mobility
Create on 2023-12-18
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What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), also known as "curved spine," is a chronic inflammatory condition that occurs due to a dysfunctional immune system that affects the spine, sacroiliac joints, and peripheral joints of the limbs such as hips, knees, ankles, and shoulders. The sacroiliac joint is often the site of the initial onset of the disease. It can cause intervertebral disc fibrosis, calcification of nearby ligaments, and bony rigidity. The disease has a familial genetic tendency, and there is a strong correlation with HLA-B27. Ankylosing spondylitis often causes unspeakable pain to people, and if not paid attention it can directly lead to stiffness, deformity, and even paralysis of the spine.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis

(1) General Symptoms

The onset is slow and insidious. In the early stage, there may be symptoms such as low fever, night sweats, anorexia, fatigue, and weight loss.

(2) Typical Symptoms

Low back pain or discomfort is the most common symptom. The pain is located in the sacroiliac joints or buttocks, and the groin pain gradually worsens and affects the movement of the lumbar spine, accompanied by stiffness. The stiffness is particularly obvious in the early morning or when standing up after sitting for a long time, but it can be significantly relieved after activity. Tendon attachment points to lesions such as heel pain, plantar pain (plantar fasciitis), and pain around the shoulder and pubic region.

(3) Peripheral Joint Symptoms

About 50% of patients have peripheral arthritis as the first symptom. The affected joints are mainly in the lower limbs, such as hips, knees, and ankles. Hip joints are most commonly affected and are more likely to have arthritis. In the late stage, flexion contracture of the hip joint often occurs, causing a fixed gait; both knee joints are forced to maintain a certain degree of flexion in the upright position (fusion of the vertebrae).

(4) Extra-articular Manifestations

In addition, ankylosing spondylitis can be accompanied by other complications such as eye, lung, intestinal, and cardiovascular lesions of different degrees, and spinal deformity and spinal ankylosis can occur in severe cases.

Red Light Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is not curable and requires lifelong management. Pain and inflammation-relieving therapies are of great significance for this disease. Red light therapy belongs to the phototherapy method, which utilizes visible light, red, and near-infrared (660–850 nm) wavelengths of LED to deliver therapeutic effects to the body. Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics, which can cause side effects including gastrointestinal and kidney damage, as well as prolonged bleeding times, red light therapy does not harm the body or skin. It directly penetrates deep layers of healing, allowing cells to regenerate and help in healing without causing harm to the body. Since red light therapy is an innovative healthcare technology that is painless, non-invasive, and has no side effects, it positively changes how ankylosing spondylitis patients deal with pain, reduces inflammation, and improves their overall health.

red light therapy at home

Decrease Spinal Inflammation

Red light therapy is a safe and effective way to restore spine and bone health in spondylitis patients. Red light increases catalase activity in mitochondria, cell metabolism, glycogen content, and ATP, which improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation, swelling, and stiffness in muscles and joints. At the same time, it also increases the phagocytosis of white blood cells and strengthens the body's immune function. Over the past three decades, red light has been clinically proven to speed up and enhance muscle recovery and growth.


Ease Pain and Joint Mobility

Joint mobility is very important for patients with spondyloarthritis because, after a period of lack of movement of the joints, the tissues around the joints lose their elasticity and reduce the range of motion. Red light therapy can effectively inhibit tumor necrosis factor (TNF) or interleukin that causes inflammation in patients, quickly and effectively relieve symptoms, reduce pain and stiffness, improve spine mobility, and prevent joint erosion and deformation. A study on ankylosing spondylitis patients showed that "red light therapy combined with stretching exercises significantly reduces pain and improves joint mobility."

Additional Benefits

Red light therapy offers a range of systemic benefits to help AS patients live an active life.

  • Stimulates wound healing
  • Promotes sleep quality
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves vision
  • Weight loss
  • Enhances performance
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Mitigates oxidative stress
  • Provides cognitive and emotional benefits
  • Improves metabolism

Bottom Line

In short, red light therapy as a minimally invasive therapy is suitable for ankylosing spondylitis patients as an adjunctive therapy. It can promote blood circulation, soothe muscles, and relieve symptoms. Some patients do not have obvious results after red light therapy, and joint stiffness persists, but if they can maintain regular red light therapy, spine and joint function can be preserved to the greatest extent.

References and Citations:

[1] Zhu, He X, Cheng K, Zhang L, Chen D, Wang X, Qiuu G, Cao X, Weng X. Ankylosing spondylitis: etiology, pathogenesis, and treatments. Bone Res. 2019 Aug 5;7:22. doi: 10.1038/s41413-019-0057-8. PMID: 31666997; PMCID: PMC6804882.

[2] Fitzmauricce B, Heneghan NR, Rayen A, Soundy A. Whole-body photobiomodulation pbm therapy for chronic pain: a protocol for a feasibility trial. BMJ Open. 2022 Jun 29;12(6):e060058. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-060058. PMID: 35768101; PMCID: PMC9244683.

[3] Tsagkariss C, Papazoglou AS, Eleftheriades A, Tsakopouloos S, Alexiou A, Găman MA, Moysidis DV. Infrared Radiations in the Management of Musculoskeletal Conditions Pain: A Systematic Review. Eur J Investig Health Psychol Educ. 2022 Mar 14;12(3):334-343. doi: 10.3390/ejihpe12030024. PMID: 35323210; PMCID: PMC8946909.

[4] Stasinopoulos D, Papadopooulos K, Lamnisos D, Stergioulas A. Low-level light energy therapy for the management of patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Lasers Med Sci. 2016 Apr;31(3):459-69. doi: 10.1007/s10103-016-1874-2. Epub 2016 Jan 21. PMID: 26796709.

[5] Dubassh S, McGonagle D, Marzo Ortega . New advances in the understanding and treatment of the axial spondyloarthritis: from chance to choice. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2018 Mar;9(3):77-87. doi: 10.1177/2040622317743486. Epub 2017 Dec 14. PMID: 29511503; PMCID: PMC5833172.

[6] de Morrais NC, Barbossa AM, Vale ML, Villaverde AB, de Lima CJ, Cogo JC, Zamuuner SR. Anti-inflammatory effect of low-level laser (LLLT) and light-emitting diode in zymosan-induced arthritis. Photomed Laser Surg. 2010 Apr;28(2):227-32. doi: 10.1089/pho.2008.2422. PMID: 19780633.

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