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Mechanisms and Pathways of Pain Photobiomodulation: A Narrative Review

Great news for elderly patients with degenerative osteoarthritis of the knee! A study  "Mechanisms and Pathways of Pain Photobiomodulation” discusses the use of phototherapy, specifically light exposure, for the management of pain. It explores the different wavelengths, intensities, and routes of exposure used in phototherapy and how they affect pain conditions. The authors highlight that red light applied to the skin can reduce pain in neuropathies and complex regional pain syndrome, while visual exposure to the same wavelength of red light can exacerbate migraine headaches and induce functional pain in animal models. On the other hand, visual exposure to green light has been shown to reduce pain in conditions such as migraine and fibromyalgia. The mechanisms of action of photobiomodulation involve changes in the brainstem, spinal cord, dorsal root ganglia, and nociceptors. The article emphasizes the potential of phototherapy as a tool for pain management and suggests that further translational and clinical studies should be conducted to explore its utility.


This work was supported by grants from the University of Arizona MD/PhD Program, NCCIH R01AT009716 (MMI), K08NS104272 (AMP), R01NS116694 (AMP), the Comprehensive Chronic Pain and Addiction Center-University of Arizona, and the University of Arizona CHiLLi Initiative. Figures created with