How Does Red Light Therapy Help People with Arthritis?

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability, described as recurring pain from inflammation in one or more body joints. Arthritic symptoms typically include pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints. They can make simple everyday tasks a struggle and can often greatly limit physical activity. While arthritis has various forms and is commonly associated with the elderly, it can affect anyone. 

We Recommend the Pro for targeting arthritis
The Rouge Pro is great for targeting arthritis. The wavelengths fall within the therapeutic range needed for joint penetration of 660nm for red, and 850nm for near-infrared.

What are people saying? From a Rouge customer: I have had chronic knee pain due primarily to arthritis...I purchased the rouge panel & am so glad I did! I use it daily & my knee is greatly improved.

Arthritis treatment generally centres on easing symptoms and increasing joint function. A treatment plan can include rest, physical therapy, exercise, medication, and sometimes even surgery to correct joint impairment.

Light Therapy

Red light and near-infrared have actually been used in the clinical treatment of arthritis since the late 1980s. There have been hundreds of clinical studies looking to determine the parameters of effectiveness. With over 40 years of research, enough scientific data has been collected to recommend it for all arthritis sufferers no matter the cause or severity. 

Some modes of light therapy are considered as a dependable treatment for the pain of arthritis, but could conceivably be an effective instrument against the root cause of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and various other inflammatory joint issues. It should come as no surprise that there is great interest with regards to the use of light on arthritis, as pain relief and accelerated healing are the effects of light therapy studied most.

Light Therapy and Its Use On Arthritis

The first major symptom of arthritis, often debilitating and life-changing, is pain. This is the most common area in which light therapy is studied. By potentially decreasing inflammation within the joint, there will likely be a decrease in pain. Practically all areas have been studied in human clinical trials including on; the knees, shoulders, jaw, fingers/hands/wrists, back, elbows, neck and ankles/feet/toes.

Due to their prevalence, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the major types of arthritis being studied, but there is reason to believe other types such as psoriatic, gout or even conditions such as fibromyalgia might benefit as well. Treatment for osteoarthritis requires the direct application of light over the affected area. Whereas treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is the same although it can also involve the application of light to the blood. This would make sense as rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and the actual root problem is in the immune cells, the joints are only a symptom.

Many factors are playing a role in the cause of arthritis, however, it’s evident there is some connection to reduced energy production and the subsequent effect that has on the body, eventually leading to the joint inflammation.

Early treatment of arthritis with Adenosine Triphosphate (the cellular energy metabolism product) had positive results, and this is the same energy molecule that red and infrared light therapy helps our cells to produce.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

Light therapy works by targeting the cellular origins of arthritis. Cells absorb the red and near-infrared wavelengths (600-890nm) and turn that light energy into chemical energy through a response commonly known as Photobiomodulation. Research has proven that red and near-infrared light increases the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), often referred to as the energy currency of the cell. This increase in adenosine triphosphate production results in more energy for the cell to perform more efficiently and repair damage.

After exposure to the specific wavelengths, Nitric Oxide (NO), frequently called the ‘miracle molecule’, is triggered and released. Nitric oxide is the body’s natural vasodilator which widens blood vessels and capillaries. After just 20 minutes of light therapy, blood flow is increased to nerves and other tissues, and this boost lasts for several hours circulating anti-inflammatory and restorative proteins throughout the body.

For a more detailed explanation on how red light therapy works, check us out here.

Red or Infrared?

The main difference between red (600-700nm) and infrared (700-1000nm) light is the depth to which they can penetrate the body. Wavelengths higher than 740nm penetrate better than wavelengths of 740nm or less, which is significant in the treatment of arthritis. Red light at a lower power may be effective for arthritis of the hands and feet, but it may not be optimal for arthritis of the knees, shoulders and bigger joints. Arthritis light therapy studies largely utilize infrared wavelengths for this very reason and the studies comparing red and infrared wavelengths demonstrate greater results from the application of infrared.

Therapeutic Penetration

To receive the maximum benefit from red light therapy treatments, applying the appropriate dosage is essential. A greater dose is required to stimulate deeper tissue whereas the dermis and epidermis require less. To ensure penetration to the joints it is essential that wavelengths fall within the therapeutic range of 620nm to 660nm for red, and 800nm to 850nm for near-infrared.


So is red light therapy magic? Not quite, but the science behind red and near-infrared light is incredibly promising. Based on current research, the utilization of red light therapy may be a complementary strategy used both at home and in clinical practice to provide symptom management for people suffering from arthritis and other joint pain conditions.

Red light and infrared therapy can be used to very effectively:

  • Reduce pain in the muscles and joints and increase blood circulation.
  • Stimulate regeneration of skin and blood cells in areas exposed to the red rays.
  • heal wounds more quickly, including mouth sores caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
  • Stimulate collagen production for anti-aging & wrinkle reduction.
  • Accelerate healing in bones and joints (a combination of red light with near-infrared can also treat large bones & joints).
  • Treat arthritis & reduce inflammation in the joints.
  • Quickly heal skin conditions like Eczema, Dermatitis & Psoriasis.
  • Boost the immune response of the cells to naturally fight viruses like cold sores (herpes simplex) & shingles (herpes zoster) and bacteria like acne & MRSA.

Rouge has applied their extensive knowledge, expertise and research to produce the most powerful and effective red light therapy devices available on the market today. Rouge panels have been designed to be affordable, multi-purpose, and 100% safe to use for the entire family (including children and pets), and professional use by chiropractors, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, alternative healing practitioners and others.

Explore how Rouge’s selection of red light therapy panels can help you.


  • Am most appreciative of this your all round education on arthritis. Am 62 years old now and about 1.1 meter tall. I have arthritis which causes me pain at both my angles and thighs. I will like your advice on how to get this Rouge Red Light Board. I live in Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria in West Africa. Thanks
    Prince Akuzamus
  • Wonderful Blog. Thanks for detailed information.
    Rouge replied:
    Thank you for your kind words! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  • Good info- need moore. How do I measure red light ? My devise has two settings-high and low.
    Rouge replied:
    Hi there! Thank you for the kind words. It does not seem like you have one
    of our products but generally if you use the irradiance levels from the
    manufacturer to calculate how much light you are getting, you can tweak the
    times and distances for optimal treatment. If you check out our FAQ page,
    you can see the treatment dosage recommendations.

    Edde moore
  • Need help on how to use.
    Distance from skin.
    How often to use

    Rouge replied:
    Hello! Understand that these times and distances are suggestions; red light therapy is not an exact dose, you can adjust the time and distance to suit your needs. The best time/distance combination is very unique to each person and you will get the benefits with small variations. You simply have to tweak your time and distance by increasing or decreasing, and with that, you can experiment to see what works best. We have general guidelines for this reason so that people have lots of room to adjust their treatments accordingly. Here is something that may be helpful for distance to light: ROUGE RED LIGHT THERAPY DOSAGE GUIDELINES: We recommend starting slow with shorter sessions at a greater distance. Be conservative on initial dosage when working on more sensitive areas. Adding up all the areas you will treat, do not exceed 120 joules of exposure per session, which is approximately 15-20 minutes of total exposure at close range. These guidelines are valid for all Rouge red light therapy products. Frequency: Minimum of 3 times per week, ideally once daily. If more than once per day is required, sessions should be at least 6 hours apart. Distance from light: The closer you are, the shorter your session will be and you will cover a smaller surface area. If you stand further away, you will be able to cover a larger area but more time will be required. Remember that we need to give the treatment area a certain amount of energy, as we move away from the light the energy available to our body diminishes rapidly. For deeper issues like arthritis: We need between 10 and 40 joules of near-infrared light (850nm). In this case, we will always want to be close to the light. Here are guidelines to follow: 6” (15 cm) from the light for 2 minutes to 7 minutes 12” (30 cm) from the light for 5 minutes to 10 minutes Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and the information provided here is for informational purposes only.

    Robert Newman
  • Just don’t know how to use.
    How far to hold from skin?
    How often to use?
    Need help on how to use
    Rouge replied:
    This would depend on which panel you are referring to. For example, The Rouge Nano is handheld and can be situated in front of a targeted area. The Tabletop measures 10.4" high. It is best suited for targeted treatments.The Essential is 18.9" and is best suited for larger areas like the torso. The Pro is 27.2" and is designed to cover more than half your body at close range. Also, we offer different mounting options to properly mount the panel, including a floor stand, door hook, or horizontal/ vertical stand to get the most out of your therapeutic experience. When using the horizontal rack it’s best to lie on a bed or couch to bring your body closer to the light.The floor stand will only allow the panel to stand upright, not on its side. If you want to lie down comfortably then the horizontal rack is the way to go. Guidelines for distance and frequency can be viewed in the previous response :)

    Robert Newman

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published