Treating Arthritis with Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)


Arthritis is one of those diseases many think are inevitable. If one has a history of repeated sports injuries, or perhaps a strong family history of either rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, it can seem unavoidable. Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) has been shown to provide natural pain relief, increased range of motion, and decrease joint inflammation by treating the root cause of the disease, rather than covering up symptoms with analgesics and injected steroids.


Osteoarthritis involves synovial inflammation as well as damage to the cartilage and subchondral bone. In the early stages, infiltration of mononuclear cells to the synovial fluid and production of proinflammatory cytokines are key contributors to articular damage.

Laser Treatment for Arthritis

Laser therapy targets photoreceptors in cells that absorb the light to be used for energy production and biological healing. This process, referred to as photobiomodulation, occurs when the light energy in the form of photons emitted from low-level lasers elicits cellular and biological responses in the body. The chief photoreceptor is Cytochrome C Oxidase, an enzyme in the electron transport chain that is involved with the production of ATP. Increased ATP leads to a cascade of secondary effects including increased signal transduction, DNA synthesis, cell proliferation and differentiation, tissue regeneration, modulation of pro and anti-inflammatory mediators, and collagen formation. All of these cellular actions have a significant impact on pain, inflammation, and the range of motion of arthritic joints.

A case of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis found tremendous success in using low-level laser therapy in the treatment of the patient’s pain and range of motion. The patient received treatment one to three times per week consistently for a period of three months. By the end of those three months, she had a greatly increased range of motion in her fingers, entirely free of pain, and off of all of her pain medications!

Low-level laser therapy was found effective in treating inflammatory cytokine production by rheumatoid arthritis synoviocytes, a specialized type of cell located inside the joints of the synovium. This study concluded that LLLT can reduce the level of pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by synoviocytes.

Another study using lab rats induced with rheumatoid arthritis concluded that LLLT is able to modulate the inflammatory response both in early as well as late progression stages of RA.

The key to treating any type of arthritis with light therapy is to target the synovial membrane. With low-level laser therapy, the arrays are positioned in such a way to provide the joint with full saturation of photons to be absorbed by the cells.

Practitioners treating patients suffering from arthritis at Meditech Rehabilitation Centre in Toronto concluded that low-intensity laser therapy is highly effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in addition to osteoarthritis. With the same Bioflex lasers used by Meditech along with their specific protocol, we at Acubalance are confident we will obtain the same success.