If you inject papain (a protein enzyme found in papaya) into your knee, your knee will develop arthritis. You would never do that, of course. But researchers do it to rats all the time. That’s what happened for a 2017 study. The researchers induced arthritis in the rats’ knees, then treated them with one of three treatments. Some rats got NSAIDs (a class of anti-inflammatory medications that includes aspirin and ibuprofen). Some exercised. And some got photobiomodulation. The rats who got photobiomodulation enjoyed the greatest reduction in inflammation markers and therefore the most objectively provable relief. This suggests 1) arthritis sufferers have a debt of gratitude to lab rats, and 2) photobiomodulation is good for arthritis. Photobiomodulation (PBM) may even provide the best relief possible.
Arthritis is a depressingly common condition. According to the CDC, “From 2013–2015, an estimated 54.4 million US adults (22.7%) annually had ever been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis.” And according to the Arthritis Foundation, 80% of people over 75 are affected by osteoarthritis alone. As a result of these circumstances, a web search for “arthritis cure” yields about a gazillion hits.
But, in fact, there is no arthritis cure. Arthritis is a symptom, usually resulting from some underlying condition. That’s why there are over 100 different kinds of arthritis. So doctors treat arthritis by treating the underlying condition. In the case of osteoarthritis — the most common type — possible underlying conditions include age, joint injury, overuse, obesity, weak muscles, and family history.
Pain Relief, Then Exercise
But you can’t really treat age or family history. In those cases and others, the best course is to relieve the pain and find ways to increase range of motion. Pain relief is worthwhile on its own. But it is particularly helpful for arthritis, because it allows you to engage in exercise. Exercise strengthens your muscles around the joints and improves bone strength, which allows your muscles and bones to take some of the pressure off your joints. This can delay the advance of arthritis and allow you to lead a more normal life.
How to Use Photobiomodulation for Arthritis
What this means is that a PBM session may give you sufficient pain relief and range of motion to exercise. And, as I noted above, exercise itself can further mitigate your pain. After every PBM session, you have an interval of comfort in which to do aerobics, join a spin class, or get on a rowing machine.
We market PBM as a recovery technology. But, if you believe in the experience of the arthritic rats cited above, you can also view it as an exercise prep technology. Just book a PBM session and plan on going for a walk or a run immediately afterward. Alternatively, you could follow your PBM session with a session at a gym. Granite State Fitness, with which Peak shares space, could be an option. If you need any help setting it up, call us (603-402-4564).