Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The usefulness of Light Therapy in the treatment of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic illness, which causes immense physical pain and unbearable fatigue. The word 'fibromyalgia' actually means "pain in the fibrous tissues in the body" and as such does not involve the joints, as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It is not classified as a disease as it is a condition that causes many different symptoms, which affect all systems in the body. 90% of those affected are female (especially during child bearing ages) with most patients experiencing symptoms between the ages of twenty and forty. Children and the elderly can also be affected by FM.

FM has no known cause as there is little evidence supporting any of the theories suggested by researchers. It is however thought to be triggered by, 1. Sleep disorders 2. Injury and Muscle Trauma 3. Genetic predisposition 4. Immune System Abnormalities, and 5. Infectious agents, including viruses and bacteria

FM has two main components, pain and fatigue. Pain is felt throughout the body (ligaments, tendons and muscles) and can range from mildly uncomfortable to excruciating. It can also continue for months and even years. Fatigue can be experienced as anything from feeling a little tired to feeling absolutely exhausted, and can make the pain of the illness harder to bear.

Symptoms include: 1. Morning stiffness 2. Wide spread pain 3. Sleep disorders 4. Chronic headaches 5. Dizziness 6. Nausea 7. Depression 8. Facial and jaw pain 9. Irritable bowel, frequent bouts of diarrhoea or constipation and irritable bladder 10. Cognitive dysfunction including lack of concentration and mixing up words (To mention a few) Patients often feel they are aching all over, with muscles feeling sore, stiff and overworked. Muscle twitching is also not rare in FM and can sometimes feel like they are burning.

Treatment for FM tends to be very comprehensive and can involve a number of health care providers including physicians, physiotherapists, psychiatrists, chiropractors and occupational therapists. Common treatments include pharmaceutical treatments such as the use of Lentizol, Sinequan or Seroxat. Other treatments include relaxation techniques, therapeutic massage, gentle exercise program, acupuncture, change in diet and cognitive behaviour therapy, to mention a few.

Light therapy is an alternative therapy, which can be used for treating symptoms of fibromyalgia. It can help reduce muscle pain, depression, fatigue and sleep disorders. Three different types of light therapy can be used for treating symptoms of fibromyalgia: Bright Light Therapy, Colour Therapy and Low Laser Light Therapy (LLLT).

Based on the idea that our body is specifically attuned to light, bright light therapy uses high powered fluorescent lights to help trigger the release of specific hormones, which help to restore the body's natural rhythm and overall health. Bright light therapy for fibromyalgia is typically carried out using a light box, which is typically placed in front of you at eye level. Depending on the intensity of the light box, treatment time could be between 15 minutes to 3 hours. You remain seated in front of the box without staring at the light box, but absorbing the light while carrying out other activities such as reading, eating, etc.

Colour therapy is a form of phototherapy, which delivers coloured beams of light to various parts of the body and its usage is becoming more popular among chronic pain sufferers. As the eyes see the coloured beams of light, the light energy is converted into electric impulses, which travel through the brain, triggering the release of hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, which help to improve your mood and ease pain. The four colours typically used are red, blue, violet, and white. Colour therapy is very relaxing and typically lasts between 15 minutes and 1 hour.

Also known as Cold Light Therapy or Soft Laser Light Therapy, Low Laser Light Therapy (LLLT) helps to reduce pain and promote healing by increasing the energy levels of certain cells in the body. Low-frequency laser light beams are applied to various painful areas of the body, once the photons emitted by these beams are absorbed by the body; they are converted into cellular energy by the energy power houses within the cells (the mitochondria). Consequently, this helps to increase the rate at which your body heals thereby eliminating pain.

Various studies have suggested that light therapy is highly effective at reducing symptoms of chronic pain, fatigue and depression, and as such is worth a try for fibromyalgia patients who yearn to be relieved of their symptoms. Read more about light therapy in our brand new Light Therapy Learning Centre. As effective as light therapy is for various disorders, certain individuals are advised against using it especially those suffering from epilepsy, skin sensitivities, glaucoma, bipolar disorders, cataracts and other eye diseases.

References Start shopping from our range of Light Therapy products.

Light Therapy...Did you know?

Useful links UK Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia Association UK



This article is only for informative purposes. It is not intended to be a medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your doctor for all your medical concerns. Kindly follow any information given in this article only after consulting your doctor or qualified medical professional. The author is not liable for any outcome or damage resulting from any information obtained from this article.