Does light therapy work on joint pain?


Millions seek relief from debilitating muscle aches and back, neck, and joint injuries in a world increasingly burdened by chronic pain. The global pandemic has only intensified this crisis. The shift to remote work, coupled with poor ergonomic setups, unhealthy eating habits, and heightened psychological stress, has devastated our physical and mental well-being. It's against this backdrop that OrthoJointRelief was founded.

Ian Ezra, our founder, experienced firsthand the limitations of mainstream pain relief products. Frustrated by their ineffectiveness, he was determined to create products that could alleviate pain. Our chiropractor-approved, scientifically-backed products are designed to offer rapid relief from a wide range of physical ailments, from neck stiffness to swollen legs and chronic back pain.

One such promising avenue we explore is light therapy, a cutting-edge treatment that has shown remarkable results in alleviating joint pain

What is Light Therapy?

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is a cutting-edge treatment modality that employs varying wavelengths of light to stimulate cellular healing processes and alleviate pain. But how did this revolutionary treatment come into existence?

Types of Light Therapy Devices

In today's medical landscape, the efficacy of light therapy is highly dependent on the type of device utilised. Here are some of the most commonly used light therapy devices in clinical settings:

  • LED Devices: Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are frequently used in both clinical and at-home settings. These devices are lauded for their user-friendly interface and versatility.
  • Low-Level Laser Devices: Often reserved for more specialised clinical applications, these devices employ low-level lasers to deliver targeted treatment with high precision.

How Does Light Therapy Work?

Light Therapy

Understanding the scientific underpinnings of light therapy is indispensable for healthcare professionals, clinicians, and patients seeking alternative treatments for joint pain. This knowledge not only aids in making informed treatment decisions but also provides a foundation for appreciating the multifaceted benefits that light therapy can offer.

The Science Behind Light Therapy

Light therapy operates on the scientific principle known as photobiomodulation. This term encapsulates the complex interactions that occur when light energy penetrates biological tissues. Cellular photoreceptors are activated upon exposure to specific wavelengths of light, setting off a series of intracellular events.

These biochemical reactions can lead to various therapeutic outcomes, including tissue repair, pain alleviation, and a reduction in inflammation. The process is a testament to the intricate ways light energy can interact with biological systems to produce clinically significant effects.

Mechanism of Action on Joint Inflammation

Light therapy's anti-inflammatory properties are of particular interest in the context of joint pain management. Research indicates that light therapy can modulate the immune response in a targeted manner. It inhibits the activity of pro-inflammatory cells such as macrophages and neutrophils while promoting the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-10 and TGF-beta. 

This dual mechanism attenuates inflammation and fosters an environment conducive to tissue repair and regeneration. As a result, light therapy has shown promise in treating a variety of inflammatory joint conditions, including but not limited to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Mechanisms of Action in Light Therapy

Understanding the mechanisms of action in light therapy is crucial for appreciating its therapeutic potential. This section aims to demystify the science behind light therapy, providing a comprehensive overview of how it works at the cellular and molecular levels.

Cellular Mechanisms

At the cellular level, light therapy primarily targets mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles in cells. When light of specific wavelengths penetrates the skin, it is absorbed by chromophores in the mitochondria, leading to increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell's energy currency. This boost in ATP production enhances cellular function, promoting healing and reducing inflammation.

Molecular Mechanisms

On a molecular level, light therapy influences various signalling pathways that regulate cellular processes like inflammation, pain perception, and tissue repair. For instance, it inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines like TNF-alpha and IL-6 while promoting anti-inflammatory molecules like IL-10. This dual action helps reduce inflammation and promote an environment conducive to healing.

The term often used to describe these cellular and molecular changes induced by light therapy is "photobiomodulation." This refers to the ability of light to modulate biological activity in a targeted manner. Photobiomodulation is the cornerstone of light therapy's effectiveness, and ongoing research aims to understand further its intricacies to optimise treatment protocols.

Effectiveness on Different Types of Arthritis

The prevalence of joint pain across a wide array of arthritic conditions has led to an urgent need for versatile treatment options. Light therapy, with its multifaceted mechanisms of action, has emerged as a subject of considerable scientific interest in the context of arthritis treatment.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex autoimmune disorder characterised by chronic inflammation of the joints, often resulting in joint deformity and erosion over time. This debilitating condition severely impacts affected individuals' quality of life and functional capacity. Light therapy has been the subject of numerous scientific investigations aimed at understanding its potential to modulate the immune response. 


Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a degenerative condition that primarily affects the cartilage within joints. Traditional treatments have often fallen short in reversing the degenerative changes, making the potential of light therapy for tissue repair and regeneration an attractive avenue for research. Clinical trials have demonstrated that light therapy can stimulate cartilage repair mechanisms at the cellular level, offering a glimmer of hope for a condition traditionally considered irreversible.

Range of Motion and Joint Function

Joint Pain

The debilitating impact of joint pain extends far beyond physical discomfort, severely limiting an individual's range of motion and overall joint function. This limitation often translates into a diminished quality of life. Light therapy has shown significant promise in addressing these critical issues, as evidenced by a growing body of scientific literature.

Improving Range of Motion

Many clinical studies have demonstrated that light therapy can significantly improve the range of motion in affected joints. These improvements are not merely statistical anomalies but translate into meaningful enhancements in the quality of life. Patients undergoing light therapy have reported increased ease in performing daily activities, from simple tasks like lifting objects to more complex movements like walking and climbing stairs.

Enhancing Joint Function

Beyond the scope of improving the range of motion, light therapy has also been shown to enhance overall joint function substantially. Light therapy facilitates more comfortable and fluid movement by reducing pain and inflammation. This improvement enables individuals to engage in daily activities and even exercise with significantly less discomfort, thereby improving their overall well-being.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Light therapy's anti-inflammatory properties are perhaps its most significant feature, especially when considering its application in joint pain management. These effects are achieved through a complex interplay of biochemical mechanisms that are still the subject of ongoing research.

Mechanisms of Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Light therapy achieves its anti-inflammatory effects through a complex array of mechanisms. These include the inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL-6, and the promotion of anti-inflammatory mediators like interleukin-10 and TGF-beta. This multi-faceted approach to reducing inflammation makes light therapy a compelling and versatile option for managing various types of joint pain, from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis.

Risks and Side Effects

While light therapy offers many benefits for managing joint pain, it's crucial to approach its application with a nuanced and comprehensive understanding of its safety profile. This is particularly important because, like any medical intervention, light therapy comes with its own set of potential risks and side effects that should not be overlooked.

Potential Risks

Although light therapy is generally considered safe, it is not entirely devoid of risks. While usually minimal, these risks can vary depending on individual health profiles and pre-existing conditions.

 The most commonly reported side effects include temporary skin redness, irritation, and increased sensitivity to light. Individuals may sometimes experience mild discomfort or a warming sensation during or after treatment. It is of paramount importance to consult healthcare professionals for a thorough risk assessment tailored to your specific health profile. This is especially crucial for individuals with certain skin conditions, photosensitivity, or those who are taking medications that may interact adversely with light therapy.

Clinical Trials and Studies

The incorporation of light therapy into joint pain management protocols is not based on anecdotal evidence; instead, it is supported by a substantial body of scientific research that adheres to rigorous methodological standards.

Numerous clinical trials have been conducted to rigorously assess the effectiveness of light therapy in the treatment of joint pain. These studies often employ randomised controlled trials, considered the gold standard in medical research, to evaluate patient outcomes.

 The collective results have been overwhelmingly positive. Patients participating in these trials have reported significant improvements in various metrics, including pain levels, range of motion, and overall joint function. These findings lend credence to the growing advocacy for light therapy as a viable treatment option for joint pain.

Precautions and Guidelines

To minimise potential risks and maximise therapeutic benefits, it is strongly advisable to adhere to the guidelines and recommendations provided by healthcare professionals and manufacturers of light therapy devices. 

Proper usage is critical, including understanding the correct wavelength, intensity, and duration of exposure for your specific condition. Overexposure or incorrect usage can negate the benefits and may even exacerbate symptoms. Therefore, it is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.

Future Directions in Light Therapy Research

As the field of light therapy continues to evolve, it is becoming increasingly clear that its potential applications are vast and varied. Ongoing research aims not only to elucidate the mechanisms through which light therapy exerts its effects but also to broaden its applications in the medical field, particularly in the realm of joint pain management.

Ongoing Research

Current research initiatives are multi-faceted, focusing on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying light therapy's effects. 

These studies aim to refine treatment protocols, optimise device specifications, and identify new applications for light therapy. Researchers are particularly interested in understanding how light therapy interacts with various cellular components, such as mitochondria and various signalling pathways, to exert its therapeutic effects. This knowledge could pave the way for more targeted and effective treatment protocols.

The future of light therapy looks exceedingly promising, with several clinical trials in the pipeline. These trials aim to validate light therapy's long-term efficacy and safety, potentially establishing it as a mainstay in joint pain management protocols. As our understanding of the mechanisms of light therapy deepens, we can expect to see more personalised treatment plans that consider individual variability in response to light therapy. This could revolutionise the way we approach not just joint pain but a myriad of other conditions as well.


The lack of regular physical activity and increased psychological stress have compounded negative effects on our well-being. Our joints, already vulnerable, are now more susceptible to inflammation and chronic pain. This is why OrthoJointRelief is committed to offering you the best solutions for rehabilitating your neck, back, and legs, including the innovative approach of light therapy.

Light therapy has emerged as a groundbreaking alternative in pain management. Its multifaceted benefits range from anti-inflammatory effects to significant improvements in joint function and range of motion. While ongoing research aims to validate its effectiveness further, the existing scientific evidence strongly supports its inclusion in comprehensive pain management strategies.

For those searching for innovative, evidence-based solutions for joint pain, we invite you to explore our range of products, including light therapy options, and add them to your basket. Make your pain a thing of the past and embrace a life free from physical discomfort with OrthoJointRelief.

Author: Ian

Ian Ezra is the Director at OrthoJointRelief. He is a qualified Sports Physical Therapist and has a B.S.C degree in Sports/Physio Therapy. You can read more about him on his about page.

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