Benefits of LED Light Therapy
A closer look illustrates how the use of light therapy with infrared diodes can help promote the healing process in the body. At the basic level all cells in the body have a miniature power plant within, called the mitochondria. This is where our cells’ energy is produced. The technical term for this energy is Adenosine Tri-Phosphate or ATP for short. ATP is formed from oxygen and glucose, both of which are carried to cells by blood flow.
Patients with neuropathy often have decreased blood flow which means that all cells, including nerves, are not receiving adequate amounts of oxygen and glucose. Therefore the mitochondria cannot manufacture normal amounts of ATP. Nerves, most commonly in the extremities, sense this lack of ATP production by sending pain signals to the brain. In some cases a lack of sensation rather than pain is the chief symptom. And this is the main reason for falls.
Because the mitochondria are very sensitive to light, infrared light therapy can stimulate ATP production in the mitochondria. That is, the nerves receive glucose and oxygen through increased blood flow to the nerves.
Light energy stimulates the release of nitric oxide from hemoglobin into the blood stream. When nitric oxide is released from hemoglobin, it enters the muscle cells in the walls of the blood vessels. The muscle cells relax as the blood vessel diameter enlarges, allowing more blood to flow through the vessels.
Benefits of Increased Nitric Oxide
Increasing nitric oxide levels in the body offers a host of benefits. These can include:
Inflammation occurs when oxygen levels are too low, so increasing blood flow via nitric oxide reduces inflammation.
- Tissue regeneration
Tissues that need to heal require oxygen, nutrients, ATP and growth factors. Nitric oxide provides an environment for enhanced healing. The key to accomplishing this? Better blood flow.
- Pain reduction
Pain occurs when oxygen levels at the nerves are are too low. Think of how painful your finger becomes if you wrap a rubber band around it. The rubber band cuts off blood flow, thereby depriving nerves and other cells of oxygen. The pain recedes when the rubber band is removed.
- Increased localized circulation
Nitric oxide is increased locally when light energy is applied to any specific site. Along with it, blood flow increases at the same point.
Depth of Light Penetration
Benefits of Light Therapy
The net result of light therapy is a cascade of beneficial chemical reactions throughout damaged nerve cells that stimulate healing. This response can be directly attributed to increased blood flow. This enhanced, localized blood flow improves tissue oxygenation and therefore plays a role in the following:
- improved sensation, which offers better gait and balance when walking;
- reduced pain, which can allow for better sleep at night, as well as reduced burning and stinging sensation in the extremities;
- increased oxygenation, which acts to reduce inflammation; and finally,
- increased circulation, which offers the body decreased wound incidents and shorter healing times.