LED Shows Promise as Potential Treatment for Chronic Pain
A team of researchers from University of Arizona found that green light-emitting diode (LED) holds the potential of becoming a novel, non-pharmacological approach in managing chronic pain.
Their new non-invasive treatment, described in a paper published in the journal Pain, were effective in increasing the tolerance of rats with neuropathic pain against thermal and tactile stimulus.
"Pain physicians are trained to manage chronic pain in several ways including medication and interventional procedures in a multimodal approach," said Mohab Ibrahim, an assistant professor of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology at UA and lead author of the study, in a press release. "While the results of the green LED are still preliminary, it holds significant promise to manage some types of chronic pain."
For the study, the researchers used rats with neuropathic pain. They divided the rats into three groups. The first group was place in plastic containers that were affixed with green LED strips. The second group was exposed to room light and fitted with contact lenses that allowed the green spectrum wavelength to pass through, while the third group were fitted with opaque contact lenses that blocked the green light from entering their visual system.
The researchers found that the first two groups both benefitted from the green LED exposure. However, the group with the opaque contact lenses did not benefit from the green LED exposure. The rats in the study did not experience any side effects from the green LED exposure nor impairment of motor or visual performance. The beneficial effects of the green LED lasted for four days after the last exposure. The researchers also observed that the rats did not developed tolerance to the therapy.
Despite the positive results of their experiments, the researchers still don't know the mechanism behind the pain-relieving qualities of green LED. However, the researchers hope that the green LED light could soon be used as an inexpensive therapy to alleviate a patient's pain when used alone, or in combination with other treatments, including physical therapy or low-dose analgesics.