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Blue-light treatment reduces spontaneous and evoked pain in a human experimental pain model

  • Introduction: Chronic pain is a frequent severe disease and often associated with anxiety, depression, insomnia, disability, and reduced quality of life. This maladaptive condition is further characterized by sensory loss, hyperalgesia, and allodynia. Blue light has been hypothesized to modulate sensory neurons and thereby influence nociception. Objectives: Here, we compared the effects of blue light vs red light and thermal control on pain sensation in a human experimental pain model. Methods: Pain, hyperalgesia, and allodynia were induced in 30 healthy volunteers through high-density transcutaneous electrical stimulation. Subsequently, blue light, red light, or thermal control treatment was applied in a cross-over design. The nonvisual effects of the respective light treatments were examined using a well-established quantitative sensory testing protocol. Somatosensory parameters as well as pain intensity and quality were scored. Results: Blue light substantially reduced spontaneous pain as assessed by numeric rating scale pain scoring. Similarly, pain quality was significantly altered as assessed by the German counterpart of the McGill Pain Questionnaire. Furthermore, blue light showed antihyperalgesic, antiallodynic, and antihypesthesic effects in contrast to red light or thermal control treatment. Conclusion: Blue-light phototherapy ameliorates pain intensity and quality in a human experimental pain model and reveals antihyperalgesic, antiallodynic, and antihypesthesic effects. Therefore, blue-light phototherapy may be a novel approach to treat pain in multiple conditions.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Anna Maria Reuss, Dominik Groos, Robert Scholl, Marco Schröter, Christian Maihöfner
Parent Title (English):Pain Reports
Article Number:e968
Number of pages:8
Publisher:Wolters Kluwer Health
Publishing Institution:Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg
Date of first publication:2021/12/08
Copyright:Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The International Association for the Study of Pain. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CCBY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funding:This study was supported by the German Research Network “Non-Visual Effects of Light/ NiviL” (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; BMBF; grant number 13 N 13492).
Keyword:Blue light; Hyperalgesia; Neuropathic pain; Treatment; therapy
Departments, institutes and facilities:Fachbereich Ingenieurwissenschaften und Kommunikation
Institut für Technik, Ressourcenschonung und Energieeffizienz (TREE)
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 53 Physik / 535 Licht, Infrarot- und Ultraviolettphänomene
6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Entry in this database:2022/01/06
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International