According to a study published in Pain, the journal of the International Association for the study of Pain, research at the University of Arizona suggests that exposing a sufferer to green LED light may be an effective approach to managing neuropathic pain.
Dr Rajesh Khanna, associate professor of pharmacology and senior author of the study, says that “while the pain-relieving qualities of green LED are clear, exactly how it works remains a puzzle. Early studies show that green light is increasing the levels of circulating endogenous opioids, which may explain the pain-relieving effects.”
To date, the research has been limited to rats. Dr Khanna says “whether this will [also] be observed in humans is not yet known and needs further work.”
Researchers have begun a small scale, human clinical trial on people suffering Fibromyalgia. Participants are provided with a green LED light strip to use in a dark room for one to two hours each night over a period of ten weeks.
In rats, the effect of the treatment seemed to last for about four days and they did not become intolerant to the therapy.
As this potential new approach to pain management is inexpensive, non-invasive and non-pharmacological, larger scale human trials are expected to follow shortly. In the longer term, it is could be used either in isolation, or in combination with physical therapy (eg physiotherapy) and/or low dose pain-relieving medication.
Dr Todd Vanderah, professor of pharmacology and co-author of the study, says “we need safer, effective and affordable approaches, used in conjunction with our current tools, to manage chronic pain. While the results of the green LED are still preliminary, it holds significant promise to manage some types of chronic pain.”
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