Pain signals travel to the brain when muscles, nerves, skin or other tissues become diseased, injured or overused. When the affected body region heals, the pain disappears. Until that time, OTC and prescription medications are commonly used to counteract the inflammation and pain. However, analgesics are not without side effects. Researchers discovered that red and infrared lights offer a gentle, natural and noninvasive alternative for reducing pain.
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Best At-Home Light Therapy Pain Relief Devices
Therapeutic Effects of Light Therapy
NASA was the first to observe the benefits of light therapy. Astronauts evaluated the effects of various wavelengths of lights on plant growth during Space Shuttle missions. Plants grew quicker and remained healthier when exposed to blue, red and infrared light. Researchers also assessed the benefits of light therapy on humans with surprising results. As space flight and living in the International Space Station has negative effects on wound healing and tissue growth, LED light therapy is beneficial for preventing space mission disasters.
Cells contain organelles called mitochondria, which act as the energy source for each cell. The red and infrared light emitted by LED bulbs penetrates the skin into underlying tissues where it is absorbed by cellular mitochondria. In turn, the organelles increase ATP energy production, which better enables cells to carry out their normal functions and hasten the healing process. One of these functions involves the synthesis of DNA and RNA for cellular replication. Injured tissues begin granulating. Collagen and fibroblasts form. Inflammation and swelling subside.
The emission of sufficient energy is also important to nerves and neurons, as it has been theorized that when injury or disease processes occur, these cells suffer depletion. There may be a correlation between a lack of energy and the initiation of pain signals.
When arteries absorb the light, they release nitric oxide from the vessel linings, which dilates the blood vessels and improves circulation. With blood flow enhanced, oxygen and nutrients flow more freely to the site of the affected area. The lymphatic system also undergoes increased circulation, which is also responsible for nutrient transport in addition to defending the body against infection.
In the past, receiving light therapy meant visiting a health care provider. However, in recent years, infrared light transmitting appliances have become available for at-home use.
The wearable DPL FlexPad consists of an 11 inch x 8 inch x 2 inch flexible pad embedded with an alternating array of 60 LED infrared and red lights. The 880 nm wavelength infrared lights and the 660 nm red medical-grade lights cover an 8 inch x 5 inch treatment area, which is designed to emit light deep into affected tissues. The expansive array of lights makes the FlexPad ideal for hands-free treatment of larger body regions. The device operates via either the AC adapter or a USB power cord.
The ends of the flexible pad feature adjustable Velcro® straps, which enables users to conveniently wrap and attach the OTC Class II medical device to an arm or leg when needed. The pad can also be applied to other body surfaces without wrapping. The FlexPad is designed to provide penetrating light for up to 20 minute sessions, multiple times per day as needed. The DPL unit has FDA approval and is highly recommended for arthritis, sprains, strains, stiffness, swelling and wound healing. The unit comes with a six-month warranty.
The TENDLITE is just under five inches in length and weighs a mere nine ounces. The portable, hand-held device consists of a stainless steel cylinder design. The red LED bulb on one end emits light at a wavelength of 660nm without damaging UVA or UVB rays. The light also does not emit heat. The LED bulb is covered by an optic lens that measures one inch in diameter. The kit comes with a convenient carrying case, the TENDLITE, one Li-ion rechargeable battery, the battery charger and protective eyewear.
Once charged, depressing a button at the top of the device activates the light. After one minute, the automatic timer disengages the light. One need merely depress the button again to turn the unit off and depress it once more to turn the light back on. In order to achieve the best results, the manufacturer’s instructions recommend applying the light to each affected area for one to three minutes, two to three times each day. The TENDLITE is safe for small spot treatments daily on any area of the body. The device comes with a 60-day money back guarantee, a one-year warranty on the entire fixture and a lifetime warranty on the LED bulb.
Beurer Infrared Heat Lamp
The infrared heat lamp is designed to bring soothing relief in the case of sinus problems, bronchial congestion, join pain or muscle aches. Protective eyewear must be worn for sinus treatments. The unit is sturdily constructed from quality materials and measures 7.7 inches x 10.6 inches x 11.2 inches with a weight of less than four pounds. The front of the lamp has a ceramic glass plate that ensures safe infrared radiation while providing protection from harmful UV rays. The lamp is situated on a uniquely-designed base that enables users to tilt the lamp from zero to 50 degrees by using the handles on either side of the face. The front of the lamp also features the on/off/timer button and a digital time readout.
The unit is programmable to provide treatment in increments of one minute and remains on for up to 15 minutes. When the set time elapses, the lamp switches off automatically. The Beurer lamp is basically a plug-in, set and use appliance. For safe use, the lamp must be positioned facing the affected area at a distance of no less than 15 to 20 inches from the body. Although the radiant heat produced by the lamp is effective for treating the conditions for which it was designed, the stationary design makes it difficult to use the device on certain body regions.
Figerm Red LED Light
The hand-held device is similar in size and appearance to an electronic thermometer. However, in place of the thermometer insert, the unit features a circular head that contains a central 808nm red light surrounded by 12 red lights functioning at a wavelength of 650nm. The back of the unit features an LCD screen that displays the time remaining. There are also displays illustrating batter power and power capacity. Beneath the displays lies the central on/off button surrounded by the adjustable power and timer buttons. The FIGERM operates on a rechargeable battery.
The unit weighs little more than one pound and is ergonomically designed for the comfort of hand-held function. The FIGERM red light is portable and ideal for applying spot treatments anywhere on the body. Manufactured with safety in mind, the light can be directly applied to the skin thanks to the low-level intensity of the LEDs. The unit is safe for all types of skin. The package comes with the FIGERM red light, USB battery charger and instruction booklet.