Red light therapy for arthritis pain relief scientific research

Red Light Therapy For Arthritis & Joint Pain Relief - The Scientific Research

Tried different methods of arthritis treatment for pain relief, but nothing has worked effectively?

Red light therapy (RLT), also known as low-level laser therapy, is gaining recognition for its significant role in alleviating arthritis-related discomfort.

This blog post will review the scientific research and explain how this therapy works to soothe your aches and improve your quality of life.

Key Takeaways

1. Red light therapy is also called low-level light therapy and is a non-invasive treatment that uses red and near-infrared wavelengths of light to reduce pain & inflammation, and to improve joint function and mobility.

2. Scientific research has shown that RLT can effectively reduce arthritis and joint pain from different types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and improve cartilage repair.

3. Red light therapy is a safe alternative for managing arthritis pain without the need for medication or invasive procedures.

What is Red Light Therapy?

How it works

Red light therapy works in a simple way. The device emits red and near-infrared (NIR) light. These types of light give cells more energy. This is done by stimulating the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) in the cells.

More ATP means more energy for the cells to heal your body faster. It also helps lower swelling with arthritis issues like knee osteoarthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Plus, it uses LEDs, so it's safe for you to use at home!

So, red light therapy for joint pain gives a pain-free option that manages joint pains with fewer side effects compared to pills or surgery.

Arthritis And Joint Pain: How Can Red Light Therapy Help?

There are numerous benefits of red light therapy for arthritis, including reduced pain and inflammation, improved joint function and mobility, and a non-invasive treatment option.

"It has been observed that PBMT, when used alone or in association with exercise programs, has positive effects on osteoarthritis reducing intensity of pain." [1]

It is also effective for other conditions such as ankle tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and osteoarthritis of the knee. By improving circulation, reducing tissue inflammation, and degradation, red light therapy offers relief for chronic pain without medications or invasive procedures.

Reduction of pain and inflammation 

Red and near infrared light that penetrates deep into your tissues is shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which helps lessen pain and swelling. 

“A single application of LLLT produced significant reductions in inflammatory cell infiltration and inflammatory cytokines" [2]

The light also improves blood flow further helping with the reduction of inflammation.

"the laser application resulted in a significantly increased skin blood flow." [3]

Improvement in joint function and mobility 

Red light therapy helps make your joints move better by improving cartilage thickness, tissue repair and cleansing joint structures. Your knees, hips, and hands can move easier with fewer hurts.

This is great news for people who find it hard to take part in fun activities due to stiff joints caused by arthritis!

"it was observed that LLLT treatments were effective in protecting and tissue cleansing joint structures, accelerating tissue repair, especially at lower doses." [4]

"Our results show that low-level laser therapy was more efficient in reducing pain and improving cartilage thickness through biochemical changes." [5]

Stimulation of cellular energy production

Red light therapy stimulates the production of energy in our cells. This helps to improve the overall health and function of our tissues. When we expose our bodies to red light, it triggers a process called photobiomodulation, which increases cellular metabolism and ATP production.

ATP is like fuel for our cells, so when we have more of it, our cells can work better and heal faster. This stimulation of cellular energy production promotes healing, making everyday activities easier and less painful for those with arthritis.

“The laser causes hyperpolarization of the cell membrane and activation of the resynthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides free energy for the regenerative bioprocesses through hydrolysis.” [6]

Non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical treatment option

Red Light Therapy is a great non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical treatment option for arthritis pain relief. It doesn't require any surgery or medication, making it safe and easy to use. You can simply relax in the comfort of your own home. 

So if you're looking for a natural way to manage your arthritis symptoms, Red Light Therapy may be a suitable choice for you.

Red Light Therapy for Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Numerous clinical studies and trials have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of red light therapy for arthritis and joint pain, providing valuable insights into its outcomes and comparing it with other treatment options.

Clinical studies and trials




Rheumatoid Arthritis

In patients with RA, relative to a separate control group, LLLT reduced pain by 70% relative to placebo and reduced morning stiffness by 27.5 min, and increased tip to palm flexibility by 1.3 cm.

Knee Osteoarthritis

The present study demonstrated that LLLT was an effective form of treatment for chronic knee pain caused by knee osteoarthritis. 

Knee Osteoarthritis

In brief, the current study focuses on the fact that LLLT is effective in reducing pain in knee osteoarthritis.

Knee Osteoarthritis

Test revealed that there was a significant reduction in VAS and pain intensity, an increase in isometric muscle strength and range of motion of the knee as well as increase in physical functional ability in three treatment groups.

Degenerative Osteoarthritis

Low-power light therapy is effective in relieving pain and disability in degenerative osteoarthritis of the knee.


Based on current research, the utilization of LLLT for pain management and osteoarthritic conditions may be a complementary strategy used in clinical practice to provide symptom management for patients suffering from osteoarthritis and chronic pain.

Chronic Osteoarthritis

Our results show that low-level laser therapy was more efficient in reducing pain and improving cartilage thickness through biochemical changes.

Cervical Osteoarthritis

Pain, paravertebral muscle spasm, lordosis angle, the range of neck motion and function were observed to improve significantly

Achilles Tendinitis

LLLT can reduce inflammation and pain in activated Achilles tendinitis. LLLT may therefore have potential in the management of diseases with an inflammatory component.

Research on red light therapy for arthritis

Scientific research has shown promising results for red light therapy in the treatment of arthritis. Clinical studies and trials have demonstrated that red and near-infrared light therapy can effectively reduce pain and inflammation associated with different types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

This non-invasive treatment option is becoming increasingly popular due to its effectiveness in relieving arthritis symptoms without the need for medication or invasive procedures.

Comparison to other treatments

When it comes to arthritis pain relief, red light therapy surpasses other treatments in several ways.

Treatment Type



Side Effects

Red Light Therapy

Backed by numerous clinical studies, red light therapy offers pain relief and joint function improvement.

Red light therapy is non-invasive and has been cleared by the FDA.

Risks and side effects are minimal when used appropriately, making it a safer option for elderly patients.


While medications can provide temporary pain relief, they do not affect cartilage repair like red light therapy can.

Long-term usage of medications can lead to issues like gastric ulcers, kidney damage, and dependence.

Common side effects include nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, and potential addiction.


Surgeries might offer pain relief, but the invasive nature, costs and recovery time make them less appealing.

Surgery comes with risks such as infection, blood clots, and potential complications from anesthesia.

Recovery from surgery can be painful and requires a substantial amount of time and physical therapy.

Safety and Side Effects

Red light therapy is generally considered safe and has minimal side effects when used as directed. It is a non-invasive treatment option with no known long-term risks or complications.

However, individuals should exercise caution if they have sensitive skin or are prone to photosensitivity. Following the recommended guidelines for treatment duration and frequency is important to avoid any potential adverse effects.

Appropriate usage and guidelines

To use red light therapy safely and effectively for arthritis, follow these guidelines:

  • Choose an FDA - approved red light therapy device specifically designed for arthritis pain relief.

  • Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for the device carefully.

  • Be consistent with your treatment schedule, following the recommended frequency of sessions.

  • Monitor your symptoms and track any changes in pain levels, joint function, and mobility.

Choosing the Right Red Light Therapy Device

Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a red light therapy device for arthritis sufferers:

  • FDA Approval: Look for devices that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness.

  • Wavelength of Light: Consider devices that emit a combination of red and near-infrared light, as these wavelengths have been shown to be most effective in reducing pain and inflammation.

  • Ease of Use: Look for devices that are user-friendly, easy to operate, and come with clear instructions for use.

  • Treatment Protocols and Frequency: Consider devices that offer recommended treatment protocols and frequency guidelines based on scientific research and clinical studies.

  • Cost: Compare the cost of different red light therapy devices and consider your budget. Keep in mind that medical-grade devices may be more expensive but can offer better results.

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Conclusion: Red Light Therapy For Arthritis

In conclusion, scientific research has shown that red light therapy is a non-invasive, safe and effective treatment option for arthritis. Using red and NIR light, it reduces inflammation, improves joint function, and provides significant pain relief without any known side effects.

With ongoing research in this field, the future of red light therapy looks promising in helping individuals find much-needed relief from arthritis pain.


1. What is red light therapy for arthritis pain relief?

Red light therapy treatments for joint pain relief uses LED red light energy to treat symptoms of arthritis like pain and stiffness around the joint.

2. How does low-level light help in treating arthritis?

Low-level light from LED red lights benefits people by reducing osteoarthritis pain and other types of arthritis through red and infrared light.

3. Can Red Light Therapy replace my need for a joint replacement?

Although Red Light Therapy can reduce symptoms associated with arthritis, it's not proven to reverse damage around the joints that might require a joint replacement.


[1] DE Oliveira MF, Johnson DS, Demchak T, Tomazoni SS, Leal-Junior EC. Low-intensity LASER and LED (photobiomodulation therapy) for pain control of the most common musculoskeletal conditions. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2022 Apr;58(2):282-289. doi: 10.23736/S1973-9087.21.07236-1. Epub 2021 Dec 16. PMID: 34913330; PMCID: PMC9980499.

[2] Hamblin MR. Can osteoarthritis be treated with light? Arthritis Res Ther. 2013 Oct 29;15(5):120. doi: 10.1186/ar4354. PMID: 24286607; PMCID: PMC3978432.

[3] Podogrodzki J, Lebiedowski M, Szalecki M, Kępa I, Syczewska M, Jóźwiak S. Wpływ niskoenergetycznej laseroterapiina skorny przepływ krwi [Impact of low level laser therapy on skin blood flow]. Dev Period Med. 2016 Jan-Mar;20(1):40-6. Polish. PMID: 27416624.

[4] Lemos GA, Batista AUD, da Silva PLP, Araújo DN, Sarmento WEA, Palomari ET. Photobiostimulation activity of different low-level laser dosage on masticatory muscles and temporomandibular joint in an induced arthritis rat model. Lasers Med Sci. 2020 Jul;35(5):1129-1139. doi: 10.1007/s10103-019-02933-y. Epub 2019 Dec 13. PMID: 31834562.

[5] S GN, Kamal W, George J, Manssor E. Radiological and biochemical effects (CTX-II, MMP-3, 8, and 13) of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in chronic osteoarthritis in Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia. Lasers Med Sci. 2017 Feb;32(2):297-303. doi: 10.1007/s10103-016-2114-5. Epub 2016 Dec 3. PMID: 27913970.

[6] Ivandic T. Low-Level Laser Therapy. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2021 Feb 5;118(5):69. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.m2021.0034. PMID: 33785126; PMCID: PMC8188418.

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