About Arthritis and Light Therapy

About Arthritis and Light Therapy
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FDA Approved

Light therapy has long been employed in the medical field; LEDs (light-emitting diodes), lasers, full-spectrum or fluorescent lamps have been used to treat patients with psoriasis, SAD (seasonal affective disorder), eczema, acne and jaundice in babies. Arthritis and light therapy have been associated before but it was only in 2008, that the FDA (Food and Drug Association) approved DPL (deep penetrating light) therapy as a treatment for arthritis. Patients treated with DPL therapy experience temporary reduction in pain and improvement in their mobility.

DPL therapy promotes blood vessel dilation, allowing more oxygen distribution to cells, which results in more rapid healing and restoration of damaged cells. DPL therapy also increases DNA and RNA synthesis, which leads to improved production of cellular growth that regenerates damaged cells. The enhanced circulation, better cellular growth, and the warmth generated from the light therapy, help increase joint mobility and temporarily relieve pain. In some cases, the exposure to infrared light boosts endorphin production; in effect, escalated endorphins impede nerve cells from transmitting pain signals to our brain.

NASA and Medical College of Wisconsin Research

Deep Penetrating Light Therapy Device

This therapy is based on NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) research on using cell regeneration to spur botanical life in space. The successful tests conducted by NASA paved the way for Dr. Harry T. Whelan, Professor of Neurology, Hyperbaric Medicine, and Pediatrics at Medical College of Wisconsin to experiment with using DPL to treat diabetic ulcers and other wounds on mice. He discovered that injuries heal and cells regenerate five times faster when exposed to LEDs.

The success in treating wounds and injuries with DPL therapy were quickly modified by physical therapists and other doctors for use in diverse medical problems. Although the first DPL therapy treatments were conducted in a medical or clinical setting, research quickly found a safe and easy to use over-the-counter home treatment. DPL therapy devices are now available commercially. They are small devices with arrays of LEDs that create infrared light at different wavelengths.

NASA Experiment

In an attempt to test the effectiveness of LED to treat wounds, NASA experimented on two rats, giving each one a 11cm incision opening ont their posterior side 2.5 cm apart. One was treated with LED alone and the other LED and HBO (hyperbaric oxygen therapy). Although, the best result was seen when treated with both LED and HBO, using LED alone still resulted to 50% faster healing time than normal healing time.

Figure 1

Figure 3

Figure 2

Figure 1. Change in wound size (%) in rat ischemic wound model.

FIGURE 2. Change in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) concentration (mg/mg Protein) vs. Time (Day) in rat ischemic wound model.

FIGURE 3. Change in basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) concentration (mg/mg Protein) vs. Time (Day) in rat ischemic wound model.

To read more about this experiment, please read NASA Light Emitting Diode Medical Applications: From Deep Space to Deep Sea.

Uses for DPL Therapy

  • Arthritis Pain & Stiffness
  • Articulations
  • Back Pain
  • Bedsores
  • Bone Chips, Fractures and Spurs
  • Bruises & Hematomas
  • Bursitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Cartilage Wear
  • Deep Muscle Aches
  • Foot & Ankle Pain
  • Golfers Elbow
  • Leg & Knee Pain
  • Muscle Atrophy
  • Neck Pain & Stiffness
  • Nerve Injuries
  • Neuralgia
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Post-injury
  • Reducing Scar Tissue
  • Restricted Range of Motion
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Spasms & Knots
  • Stiff Muscles
  • Strains & Stress
  • Swelling
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
  • Tendon Problems
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Torn Cartilage & Ligaments
  • Wrist Pain

Benefits of DPL Therapy

Besides making you look younger, the DPL system can temporarily relieve pain and accelerate healing after a surgery or injury. Here are some of its benefits:

  • FDA approved treatment technology used in the comfort of your home for a non-invasive, drug-free treatment for pain and muscle injuries.

    Stimulates collagen production; collagen is a protein that decreases scar tissues and rebuilds damaged tissues.

  • Improves blood circulation for easier access to the damaged areas for a quicker healing process.

  • Boosts lymphatic system activity. This helps decrease the swelling.

  • Accelerates ATP release, which is a transporter of energy and nutrients to cells.

  • Increases DNA and RNA to help in repairing and replacing cells.

  • Reduces nerve tissue excitability, which results in pain relief.

  • Promotes enkephalins and endorphins, which are natural and non-narcotic analgesics to help reduce the pain.

Science Behind DPL Theraphy

Using DPL to temporarily treat arthritis.

Arthritis and light therapy have been researched independently worldwide for over 40 years, but have only been acknowledged by FDA some years ago. Both Infrared and visible red light are known to show positive effects to 24 different cellular levels. Infrared at 880nm wavelength can penetrate tissue depth of 30-40 mm; it is beneficial in treating joint, deep muscle, and bone problems. Visible red light at 660nm penetrates a depth of 8-10 mm; it is more effective when treating superficial problems close to the skin surface such as cuts, scars, and wounds. DPL therapy utilizes Photons, a form of energy that infiltrates deep into the skin; when absorbed by cells, it transforms into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is then applied to power the metabolic process of synthesizing DNA, RNA, enzymes, protein, and other elements needed to regenerate or repair damaged cell components. ATP also restores homeostasis and fosters cell proliferation or mitosis. DPL is a drug free and non-invasive therapy that can be modified for your individual needs.

To know more about arthritis and other treatment, please read Benefits of Physical Therapy For Arthritis and Pathophysiology of Osteoarthritis.

Image Credits


Harry T. Whelan, Ellen V. Buchmannla, Noel T. Whelan, Scott G. Turnerla, Vita Cevenini, Helen Stinson, Ron Ignatius, Todd Martin, Joan Cwiklinski, Glenn A. Meyer, Brian Hodgson, Lisa Gould, Mary Kane, Gina Chen, James Caviness. NASA Light Emitting Diode Medical Applications: From Deep Space to Deep Sea - https://www.warp-heals.com/pdf/NASA_DeepSEA.pdf

Medical News Today: FDA Clears The DPL (Deep Penetrating Light) Therapy System For Over-the-Counter - Home Use - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/129684.php