What is Photonic Stimulation Therapy?
Photonic Stimulation is an infrafed light therapy that utilizes diffuse light stimulation of tissues. Similar light therapies have been used since the 1960s, especially throughout Europe. Research has shown this therapy to be effective for treatment of arthritis, soft tissue injuries, and pain, among other things.
Infrared mosaic arrays, such as are used in the Photonic Stimulator, have the unique advantage of high output power of infrared energy over a relatively large treatment area. They are safe because their energy output is diffused over a larger area, not concentrated into a small intense beam of energy as a typical laser might.
How Does Photonic Stimulation Work?
The Photonic Stimulator helps modulate the sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight nervous system), helping the body to normalize skin temperature and pain regulation. Myofascial pain and RSD ( Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) pain, among other types of chronic pain are transmitted through the body by the sympathetic nervous system.
There are a number of ideas about how photonic stimulation works. Research continues to add to our current understandings.
Scientists believe that the mechanism of action of photonic stimulation is related to its ability to excite electrons within the energy-producing mitochondria of cells in injured tissues. This process is thought to enable these cells to increase their production of ATP, the energy currency of our cells, and thereby stimulating the return of more normal cellular physiology. Infrared light appears to stimulate these cellular components to function better and wounds heal more rapidly. Tissue regrowth occurs at a much faster rate than expected. Accompanying this is a more normal regulation of the autonomic nervous system that increases blood flow to injured tissues—this promotes both pain relief and faster healing.
Abnormalities in temperature regulation in tissue and subsequent positive blood flow changes have been observed to normalize with infrared stimulation, as seen with infrafed cameras before and after photonic stimulation treatments.
The “Interruption theory” posits that infrared signals interrupt the incorrectly-perceived sensations of pain that become conditioned in the person who feels chronic pain. It appears to give the brain a break from constant pain perception such that the brain can re-evaluate these sensations and can instead correctly identify them, or their origin, as non-painful stimuli. In addition, interruptions in the way signals interact between the blood vessels and the networks of nerves can change the mechanisms that perpetuate pain, leaving the correct signals a chance to be generated. This process halts the feedback loop that perpetuates interpretation of pain to even mild, non-painful stimulation in those who experience chronic pain. Research has suggested that people who have chronic pain have become “hyper-reactive” to stimuli and their brains falsely interpret even neutral signals coming in as pain. This does not mean that they are not feeling pain, only that their systems have become more reactive to external stimulation and they are subjectively feeling pain when someone else who does not have the same pain threshold sensitization of the sympathetic nervous system would not feel pain.
What happens in Photonic Stimulation Therapy?
Photonic Stimulation results in increased blood flow and improved nerve function in the areas treated. Blood flow improves the amount of oxygen available to the tissues and brings nutrients into injured areas. This also helps to remove waste products that build up in tissues and cause pain. As the healing progresses, pain and numbness decrease and range of motion improves.
What is Photonic Stimulation used for?
Scientific studies on light therapy indicate that Photonic Stimulation may be helpful in easing symptoms associated with many disorders, including:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Circulatory disorders
- Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- Herniated disc
- Myofascial discomfort
- Sports injuries
- Sprain/strain injuries
- Trigger points
The Photonic Stimulator device is FDA approved for medical use in this country. It has been used extensively in Sports Medicine Clinics and by the United States Olympic Teams for treatment of tissue injuries in it’s athletes.
Photonic Stimulation is contraindicated for treating the eyes, pregnant uterus, or patients who are diagnosed with cancer or have a pacemaker.