Fibromyalgia can be a very difficult illness to deal with. The widespread muscle pain and persistent fatigue, often make daily living a real challenge. And many of the treatments used to reduce these symptoms end up providing little relief. So if you are suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome, you may be interested in trying a treatment that is associated with few side effects and positive results. Light therapy has been used for centuries in some countries to help cure chronic and acute pain. It is now available throughout North America to help reduce your fibromyalgia symptoms.
What is Light Therapy?
Light therapy is an alternative therapy used to help relieve a variety of physical illnesses, ranging from chronic pain to depression. Also known as phototherapy, light therapy delivers light beams to various areas of the body in order to trigger hormone release and healing. Practiced by physicians, physical therapists, and psychologists, light therapy uses bright, colored, and low-level forms of light to promote wellbeing.
Who Can Light Therapy Benefit?
Light therapy can offer long-term benefits to those suffering from a variety of health problems or illnesses. It is often used to treat:
- migraine headaches
- soft tissue injuries, including sprains and strains
- seasonal affective disorder
- sleep disorders
How Can Light Therapy Benefit Fibromyalgia?
Light therapy is particularly useful for treating fibromyalgia syndrome. It can help to reduce:
- muscle pain
- mood disorders and depression
Types of Light Therapy
There are three different light therapies.
Bright Light Therapy
Bright light therapy is the most commonly used form of light therapy. It is based on the idea that your body is specifically attuned to light. Known as the circadian rhythm, your body’s sleep cycle, energy levels, and mood are all governed by changes in natural light. Bright light therapy uses high-powered fluorescent lights to help trigger the release of specific hormones which will help to restore your body’s natural circadian rhythm and your overall health.
Bright light therapy is typically performed using a light box. This is a small box containing dozens of full-spectrum, or white, light bulbs. This light box is placed in front of you, usually on a table at eye level. You remain seated in front of the box for anywhere between 15 minutes and three hours. During this time you do not stare at the light therapy box, but instead absorb the light while reading, eating, or engaging in other leisure activities.
Color Light Therapy
Color light therapy is becoming more and more popular among chronic pain sufferers. This form of phototherapy delivers colored beams of light to various body parts. When your eyes see this colored light, the light energy is converted into electric impulses. These impulses travel through your brain, triggering the release of particular hormones, including serotonin and endorphins. This helps to improve mood and ease pain.
Color therapy typically uses four main colors: red, blue, violet, and white. These colors can be applied directly to certain body parts, or they can be UV filtered and shone into your eyes. Color light therapy is very relaxing and typically lasts between 15 minutes and one hour.
Low Light Laser Therapy (LLLT)
Low laser light therapy involves the application of low-frequency laser light beams to various painful areas of the body. Also known as cold light therapy and soft laser light therapy, these low-level lasers produce no heat, and thus cause no damage to the skin or underlying tissues and organs.
Low laser light therapy helps to reduce pain and promote healing by increasing the energy levels of certain cells in the body. Low-level laser light emits photons that are absorbed by your body’s cells. These photons are converted into cellular energy by the mitochondria (energy powerhouses) within your cells. This helps to increase the rate at which your body heals, eliminating pain.
Low laser light therapy is generally applied to specific areas of the body (painful areas or acupuncture points). Using a special laser wand, your caregiver will apply the laser light to these areas for about 15 to 20 minutes. Pain relief can usually be felt immediately.
How Effective is Light Therapy?
The effectiveness of light therapy has been debated over the years. However, recent studies now suggest that light therapy is very effective at reducing symptoms of chronic pain, fatigue, headache, and depression. In a study of migraine sufferers, 99% of migraine patients experienced a reduction in the number of headaches they experienced after using light therapy. Another study analyzed light therapy in fibromyalgia sufferers. 66% of sufferers using low light laser therapy experienced a reduction in muscle pain symptoms.
Side Effects of Light Therapy
The side effects caused by light therapy tend to be minimal and temporary. The most common side effects include eye sensitivity and irritation. You may also experience some mild nausea at the beginning of your light therapy sessions. Some patients complain of becoming restless or over-stimulated by light therapy. Reducing the time spent in light therapy can help to eliminate this restlessness
Who Shouldn’t Use Light Therapy?
Light therapy isn’t for everybody. Be sure to speak with your health care provider before trying any form of light therapy. Light therapy is generally advised against if you are suffering from:
- glaucoma, cataracts, or other eye diseases
- skin sensitivities
- bipolar disorder