Light Therapy Helps Joint Pain and More, New Study Underway

Previous research and a study in the works reveal the results of light therapy on brain functions, including relief for muscle and joint pains.

Previous research and a study in the works reveal the results of light therapy on brain functions, including relief for muscle and joint pains.

After a pilot study affirmed that light-emitting diodes (LEDs) had a positive effect on cognitive performance in veterans with Gulf War Illness (GWI), another trial was initiated. This randomized, placebo-controlled study will uncover the potential positives that the lights have on blood flow in the brain. The authors suspect that it will help repair damaged cells in the mitochondria that will help thinking and memory issues as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lead Author Margaret Naeser and her colleagues are working to find the exact effects of the therapy method on patients. While the main purpose of the study is not to uncover pain patterns, it does reveal that the therapy makes a difference in discomfort.

"We are applying a technology that's been around for a while,” Naeser said in a news release. "But it's always been used on the body, for wound healing and to treat muscle aches and pains, and joint problems. We're starting to use it on the brain."

Developing on Clinical Trials, the study tests 160 veterans ranging from 38 to 65 years of age in 15 separate sessions.

During the 30-minute treatments, the participants wear a helmet lined with light-emitting diodes that consist of painless, heatless red near-infrared light. It is in direct contact with the scalp while diodes deliver photons to the brain through the nostrils.

"The light-emitting diodes add something beyond what's currently available with cognitive rehabilitation therapy," Naeser said.

The Virginia Boston Healthcare System researchers recognize that cognitive rehabilitation therapy is significant to healing, however, they believe that the LEDs can help more than just pain.

"That's a very important therapy, but patients can go only so far with it. And in fact, most of the traumatic brain injury and PTSD cases that we've helped so far with LEDs on the head have been through cognitive rehabilitation therapy,” Naeser explained. “These people still showed additional progress after the LED treatments. It's likely a combination of both methods would produce the best results."