Red Light Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Almost 28 million adults in the UK report suffering from chronic pain of varying levels of discomfort. Of this group at least 2% experience uncomfortable sensations and pain due to fibromyalgia. While research into the condition is still going on all over the globe, the condition often goes undiagnosed or untreated, leaving those afflicted to deal with their chronic pain alone. However, with advancements in medicine, particularly in technologies such as Red Light Therapy (RLT), there is hope for fibromyalgia sufferers to receive more effective treatments for their symptoms.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, anxiety and depression. While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms.
These debilitating symptoms have far-reaching consequences. People with fibromyalgia may find it difficult to socialise or keep up a job. They may have to modify their day to work around the pain.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
There is no definitive cause of fibromyalgia, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. One theory is that it may be caused by changes in the way the brain processes pain signals.
Fibromyalgia often develops after a physical or emotional trauma, such as a car accident or the death of a loved one. There may also be a link between fibromyalgia and certain medical conditions such as arthritis, Lyme disease and endometriosis.
There are many different treatment paths that people with fibromyalgia can take. Some common treatments include:
Exercise and physical therapy: This can help to increase muscle strength and endurance, improve joint function, and decrease pain.
Medications: There are various medications that can be used to treat fibromyalgia, such as pain relievers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs.
Counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy: These therapies can help people with fibromyalgia manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Alternative therapies: Some people with fibromyalgia find relief with alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage or yoga.
Red Light Therapy: Red light therapy is an increasingly popular treatment option for people with fibromyalgia. This therapy uses low levels of red light to reduce inflammation and pain. A growing body of research suggests that red light therapy can be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia.
How Red Light Therapy Can Help Treat Fibromyalgia
Red light therapy uses red low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to treat various conditions. RLT is sometimes referred to as photobiomodulation or low-level laser therapy. Red light therapy is considered safe with no side effects when instructions are followed correctly.
Red light therapy for fibromyalgia may help to:
- reduce pain
- improve sleep quality
- increase energy levels
- decrease stiffness and improve range of motion
Red light therapy works by stimulating the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the major source of energy for cells and is required for many cellular processes. By increasing ATP production, red light therapy may help to reduce pain and inflammation, increase oxygenation and improve cell function. Think of your body like a battery, fibromyalgia and similar conditions deplete the charge of your battery. Red light therapy stimulates ATP production, recharging your bodies battery.
There may be even more to the anti-inflammatory effects, however. Microglia are the primary immune cells of the central nervous system and are responsible for the surveillance and removal of damaged neurons. When microglia are activated, they release inflammatory cytokines and other molecules that can contribute to pain. Additionally, activated microglia release chemicals that can inhibit nerve growth and regeneration, further exacerbating pain. Finally, recent research has shown that microglial activation may be involved in the development of centralized sensitization, a key feature of fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that red light therapy can convert inflammatory macrophages into anti-inflammatory cells, thereby reducing the inflammation associated with fibromyalgia.
Studies have shown that red light therapy can stimulate the release of nitric oxide, which acts to dilate blood vessels. Reduced vasoconstriction leads to increased blood flow throughout the body. In addition to this, RLT has been found to stimulate the formation of new blood cells.
A 2019 study found that red light therapy was effective in reducing pain, depression, and anxiety and improving the quality of life in people with fibromyalgia. The study participants who received red light therapy had significant improvements in pain, fatigue, morning stiffness, and mental well-being compared to those who did not receive the therapy.
Treat Fibromyalgia At Home with Red Light Therapy
If you find your condition dismissed and that conventional treatments have yet to improve your symptoms, red light therapy can in fact be used effectively to treat fibromyalgia in the comfort of your home. You can purchase a red light therapy device for home use and use it as recommended for pain relief, improved sleep and an overall boost in your general wellness. If you are struggling with pain all over your body, you may get the greatest benefit from a full body red light panel.
Red light therapy is a promising treatment for fibromyalgia, especially as this condition is often poorly managed under standard medical intervention. It addresses the symptoms at a cellular level leading to improvements globally throughout the body.