Red Light Therapy’s Answer to Neuropathic Pain
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Red Light Therapy’s Answer to Neuropathic Pain
Create on 2024-05-10
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Understanding Red Light Therapy (RLT) in the Context of Neuropathy

Red light therapy (RLT) or low-level light therapy, is a type of phototherapy that uses a special filter to obtain red and near-infrared visible light with a concentrated wavelength of 630–850 nm and produce a specific therapeutic effect by irradiating the human body. Red therapy stimulates photobiomodulation (PBM) mechanisms in the human body. During PBM, red light enters tissues and interacts with cytochrome C complexes within mitochondria, triggering a series of biological cascades, thereby achieving increased cell metabolism, reduced pain, reduced muscle spasms, and improved microcirculation of damaged tissues.

In addition to red light therapy's well-known uses in the medical field, RLT also plays an important role in the field of rehabilitation and pain management. Red therapy provides patients with a noninvasive, painless, and drug-free approach to pain relief.

Today, let's learn about the mysterious power behind the "pain buster"—red l light therapy!

What is Neuropathic Pain?

Neuropathic pain refers to chronic pain directly caused by a certain injury or disease involving the somatosensory system, with a prevalence of 2%–8%. Neuropathic pain can arise from various diseases, including diabetic polyneuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia, post-stroke central pain, spinal cord injury pain, post-traumatic neuralgia, postoperative neuralgia, etc. Neuropathic pain seriously affects the quality of life of patients. Not only can long-term pain affect the patient's ability to sleep, work and live, but it also increases the incidence of depression, anxiety and other affective disorders. Studies have shown that sleep and mood disorders are common in patients with neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic Pain Treatment Options

Neuropathic pain is a continuous process that may recur and require long-term treatment, generally including pharmacotherapy and minimally invasive treatments. The pathogenesis of neuropathic pain is complex, and there are fewer specific drugs, so effectively controlling pain is a difficult point in clinical treatment.

The Appeal of RLT for Neuropathic Pain Sufferers

Neuropathic pain is often misdiagnosed clinically, and the administration of common analgesics, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, leads to little response, delayed treatment, and adverse reactions. Among noninvasive treatment options, red light therapy is an emerging pain-relieving option for neurologic pain, and it can be combined with external treatment to have a better effect. Red light therapy device offers a noninvasive, safe, targeted treatment method of photobiomodulation to treat pain. Compared with invasive surgery and conventional drug treatment, red light therapy is a brand-new, painless, noninvasive, simple, fast, and convenient technology with minimal discomfort, no risk of cross-infection, and negligible side effects.

Exploring the RLT Healing Benefits for Nerve Damage

Red light therapy can modulate nerve function by influencing neurochemical factors by stimulating light-sensitive cells, transmitting light signals to the brain, and causing a series of beneficial biochemical reactions such as,

  • Promote nerve function: Poor metabolism negatively affects nerve health and function. It can improve the activity of a variety of enzymes, boost the nerve's metabolism, and repair it by increasing ATP production in the body.
  • Improve circulation: One of the main causes of nerve damage is a reduced supply of oxygen and nutrients. Under the action of RLT, blood vessels relax and increase the body's microcirculation, nerve conduction velocity, and muscle contraction, relieving pain and muscle spasms.
  • Anti-inflammatory and analgesic: By acting locally, RLT can induce the release of analgesic substances, produce obvious analgesic effects, and reduce the pain threshold in inflammatory neuropathic pain diseases.

Real-life Application Scenarios

Clinical findings have proven that RLT can decrease pain and improve sensory activity in diabetic neuropathy. The Laser Medicine Science journal published a study conducted in 2023 that indicated that there was a significant improvement in neuropathic symptoms and the speed of nerve conduction, and hence in the quality of life, among patients with diabetic neuropathy after being subjected to RLT.

Other clinical trials reported promising applications of RLT in the management of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). A study published in 2017 in the Journal of Randomized Control Trial showed that RLT greatly reduces pain and improves the quality of life in cancer patients with CIPN.

RLT has also shown positive results in treating other types of peripheral neuropathies (autoimmune and idiopathic neuropathies). At-home application of RLT suggested that it improves nerve function, pain scores, and quality of life.

Patient Journeys to Recovery

"Before joining the RLT trial treatment, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy actually made day-to-day living unbearable. But supported by RLT and medication, relief finally came. After a few sessions of RLT for 30 minutes in 3-6 weeks, the pain was lessened, and mobility improved. The effects of combining treatments were greater: symptoms diminished, and the quality of life was regained. I now feel totally different and in control of my life. I was able to move through my cancer journey with much more comfort and resilience by making RLT a daily part of my self-care."

 

Integrating RLT into Neuropathy Management Plans

A neuropathy management plan that includes RLT can offer well-rounded, individualized assistance in symptom relief and functional improvement to patients.

  • Assessment: Diagnose accurately the presence of neuropathy and set appropriate goals.
  • Multimodal approach: combining RLT with existing treatments, such as medication and physical therapy.
  • Patient Education: Educate patients about the benefits, use, and safety of RLT.
  • Individualized Plans: Individualized protocols for RLT that suit the needs of each patient's condition.
  • Frequency and Duration: Determine the most relevant frequency and duration of sessions for RLT.
  • Monitoring: Evaluate how the patients are doing well or poorly against objective measures.
  • Coordinated Care: Coordinate RLT with other healthcare providers.
  • Follow-up: Continue support and treatment modification as appropriate.

Conclusion

Red light therapy is a groundbreaking new approach to the treatment of neuropathy that is noninvasive and poised to be a dramatic game-changer. In its adjunct application, RLT holds a lot of promise in symptom relief and in the improvement of quality of life for any person who is suffering from all the various forms of neuropathy. Allowing patients and health professionals to reach the full potential of RLT through improved care for neuropathy: the more we know regarding what RLT can do in the adjunct battle against neuropathic pain, the more we are on the way to a new age of hope and relief in the lives of those struggling with this challenging condition.

References

[1] Finnerup, N. B., Kuner, R., & Jensen, T. S. (2021). Neuropathic Pain: From Mechanisms to Treatment. Physiological reviews, 101(1), 259–301. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00045.2019

[2] Holanda, V. M., Chavantes, M. C., Wu, X., & Anders, J. J. (2017). The mechanistic basis for photobiomodulation therapy of neuropathic pain by near infrared laser light. Lasers in surgery and medicine, 49(5), 516–524. https://doi.org/10.1002/lsm.22628

[3] Ebadi, S. A., Tabeie, F., Tavakoli, S., & Khalili, S. (2023). Effects of Photobiomodulation With Two Wavelengths of 630 and 810 nm on Diabetic Neuropathy. Journal of lasers in medical sciences, 14, e22. https://doi.org/10.34172/jlms.2023.22

[4] Argenta, P. A., Ballman, K. V., Geller, M. A., Carson, L. F., Ghebre, R., Mullany, S. A., Teoh, D. G., Winterhoff, B. J., Rivard, C. L., & Erickson, B. K. (2017). The effect of photobiomodulation on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy: A randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial. Gynecologic oncology, 144(1), 159–166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygyno.2016.11.013

[5] Li, B., & Wang, X. (2022). Photobiomodulation enhances facial nerve regeneration via activation of PI3K/Akt signaling pathway-mediated antioxidant response. Lasers in medical science, 37(2), 993–1006. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-021-03344-8

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