Most people have heard of arthritis or have a family member that’s dealt with its debilitating effects. But it’s not as common to know specifics about this disease - such as the range of different types, signs and symptoms, and the multitude of ways to manage or treat it. You may be familiar with the two main types of arthritis, which include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. But in actuality, arthritis and related joint problems show themselves in over 100 different ways, affecting over 50 million adults. And to the surprise of most folks, arthritis is America’s top reason for disability, according to the Arthritis Foundation.1
The main difference in the various types of arthritis is the way in which the condition starts. However, most forms of arthritis lead to similar symptoms - resulting in joints that are painful, swollen, and stiff. People can also experience different levels of these symptoms, which can linger for a continued period of time – or show themselves infrequently in spurts. But over time, someone with arthritis will eventually suffer from a reduced level of body movement, which can negatively impact their quality of life.
It's possible for some types of arthritis to go into remission as long as the person keeps up with medical treatments and lifestyle recommendations. However, traditional medicine does not include a cure for arthritis. Instead, there’s a variety of different means that are used to manage the disease, including medication and surgery. In some cases, natural treatments may also be recommended by doctors, which can include vitamins, minerals and herbs, as well as massage, electrical stimulation, and hot and cold therapy.
But most people - even those who are experimenting with alternative treatments for arthritis - may not be aware of red and near infrared light therapy – which has been studied extensively and found to be effective for improving this disease. Studies have supported its use in different types of arthritis and in various parts of the body. In fact, red and near infrared light therapy even shows promise in physically changing the condition of the joints.
Vast Amount of Clinical Research Shows Benefits of Light Therapy for Arthritis and Overall Joint Health
Since the early 90’s, when light therapy was introduced as an alternative treatment method for people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, this therapy has been studied extensively. While red and near infrared light therapy aren’t considered standard treatment options for arthritis, countless clinical studies have supported its use for this disease and researchers have recommended it as an effective form of treatment.
Red light works by targeting the pain and inflammation of arthritis. It helps this disease the same way it works with other conditions - cells absorb wavelengths in the red and near infrared range, where the light is converted into cellular energy, which enables cells to function at a higher capacity. We’ve previously covered the mechanism of action for red light therapy in much greater detail. But based on published clinical literature, it reduces the symptoms of arthritis, including pain, swelling, and stiffness.
In 2000, a systematic review in The Journal of Rheumatology set out to see just how effective light therapy can be for arthritis. This review found significant results across thirteen randomized controlled trials. It reported the best results for rheumatoid arthritis, with light therapy causing participants to experience 70 percent less pain compared to the placebo. Also, light therapy reduced morning stiffness in participants by 27.5 minutes and significantly increased hand flexibility.2
Red and near infrared light therapy has also demonstrated effectiveness on the various symptoms of arthritis too, as documented in a 2012 study in Clinical Rehabilitation. Compared to the placebo group, this study found the cohort of participants that received light therapy along with exercise showed significant improvements for many variables - including pain, functionality, and range of motion.3
Another study in Photochemistry and Photobiology studied the wavelengths that were most beneficial for osteoarthritis in rats. It documented that near infrared light was best - showing positive results that included restoring the creation of new blood vessels and cutting down on connective tissue thickening. Nonetheless, red light showed positive results as well.4
In addition, many studies on the use of light therapy for arthritis have supported its use for joint health too. For instance, a systematic review in Lasers in Medical Science found that light therapy along with ultrasound showed strong results for treating hand osteoarthritis in women, with a major decline in pain. This meta-analysis documented extensive, positive results for the use of light therapy for arthritis in the knees, neck, back, jaw and other areas as well.5
And lastly, the results of studies also extend to joint problems beyond arthritis. A 2003 systematic review in The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy looked at 11 clinical trials of light therapy for chronic joint disorders in the knee. Across all of these studies, light therapy reduced pain while improving overall joint function.6
Conclusion: The Evidence is Overwhelming – Numerous Clinical Studies Support Light Therapy as an Effective Treatment for Arthritis and Joint Pain
Overall, strong evidence exists that supports the use of light therapy at red and near infrared wavelengths for reducing symptoms of arthritis and improving overall joint health. The aforementioned studies only provide a sample of the wide body of clinical research that documents positive results when using light therapy for joint pain and relief from arthritis.
But as noted before, it’s imperative to use a light therapy device that delivers the right wavelengths with optimal power levels. Consider a device - like the Joovv Light - which provides light in the red and near infrared wavelength range with professional-grade power output. If you’re in the market for a light therapy device, we’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed!
(1) What Is Arthritis? Arthritis Foundation.
(2) Brosseau L, Welch V, et al. Low level laser therapy for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis: a metaanalysis. The Journal of Rheumatology. Aug 2000; 27(8): 1961-9.
(3) Alfredo PP, Bjordal JM, et al. Efficacy of low level laser therapy associated with exercises in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind study. Clinical Rehabilitation. Jun 2012; 26(6): 523-33.
(4) da Rosa AS, dos Santos AF, et al. Effects of low-level laser therapy at wavelengths of 660 and 808 nm in experimental model of osteoarthritis. Photochemistry and Photobiology. Jan-Feb 2012; 88(1): 161-6.
(5) Paolillo AR, Paolillo FR, et al. Synergic effects of ultrasound and laser on the pain relief in women with hand osteoarthritis. Lasers in Medical Science. Jan 2015; 30(1): 279-86.
(6) Bjordal JM, Couppe C, et al. A systematic review of low level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy. 2003; 49(2): 107-16.