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Red Light Therapy Science

Learn About Red Light Therapy Science and Benefits

Interested in learning about red light therapy science and the benefits of red light therapy and photobiomodulation? Here, we break down all you need to know about how red light therapy and photobiomodulation are helping treat hand arthritis and hand joint pain.

Looking for a more technical breakdown of red light therapy science? You'll also find dozens of links to additional resources and clinical studies at the bottom of this page.

What exactly is Triumph LTD red light therapy

Triumph LTD (Light Therapy Device) is a three-function hand therapy device designed specifically to treat pain and stiffness in arthritic hands and other hand ailments including post-surgery recovery. Triumph Hand Therapy uses photobiomodulation red light therapy, heat and vibration massage to reduce hand pain and provides increased flexibility and comfort. When used on a daily basis, your Triumph device can reduce pain, stiffness and swelling giving you greater use of your hands. In addition, when used to treat hand wounds and post-hand surgery recovery, Triumph Hand Therapy can speed healing by up to 200%.

What are the biological benefits of red light therapy?

  • Increases blood capillary circulation and vascular activity by promoting improvements in the metabolism of nitric oxide (NO). This facilitates vasodilation and leads to the formation of new capillaries, which then provide additional oxygen and nutrients to accelerate natural tissue healing. The metabolism of nitric oxide activates a cascade of beneficial biochemical process within the body.
  • Increases energy levels by promoting release of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from cells’ mitochondria. ATP is an immediate source of energy for muscle contraction and is essential in the metabolism of a cellular process and sustaining life.
  • Stimulates DNA/RNA synthesis and cellular reproduction, accelerating replacement of damaged cells.
  • Activates the lymphatic system, an important part of our immune system that helps relieve edema and the discomfort associated with swelling. The lymphatic system also carries waste out of the body.
  • Increases blood flow/circulation and brings more oxygen and nutrients to our cells and tissues, stimulates fibroblastic activity that promotes the repair of connective tissue and the formation of collagen fibers.
  • Increases the production of adrenals, which facilitate long-term pain relief and increases one’s resilience to stress.
  • Increases production of endorphins and enkephalins from the brain, which promotes pain reduction and enhances moods.
  • Stimulates tissue graduation and connective tissue formation of new capillaries (small blood vessels).
  • Improves natural production of collagen and fibroblasts that are important for skin, joint and digestive health.
  • Repairs and restoring damaged soft connective tissue.
  • Decreases inflammation and swelling in chronic conditions of arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis, which helps control our natural healing capabilities.
  • Lowers effects of oxidative stress/free radical damage, which are most often associated with the negative effects of aging.

What can I expect from using a red light therapy device designed for my hands?

Results of treatment include reduced pain, reduced swelling, reduced morning stiffness, greater flexibility and use of hands and fingers and greater grip strength. Triumph Hand Therapy is intended to improve your quality of life by making your arthritic hands feel better with less pain and more flexibility. You will have greater use of your hands.

Have any clinical studies reviewed the effectiveness of red light therapy on arthritis?

There are many clinical studies showing the effectiveness of red light therapy for treating arthritis. In a review article on rheumatology, some 18 papers were considered. All studies involved double-blind trials with photobiomodulation in chronic rheumatoid arthritis patients and reported significant improvement in both acute small joint inflammation and chronic pain (80% success rate in relieving pain).

A different study of 170 patients with rheumatoid arthritis using photobiomodulation showed pain attenuation (pain reduction) of up to 90%. Red light therapy also accounted for increased cellular rejuvenation and blood flow, which play an important role in improving joint and tissue health in arthritic hands. Photobiomodulation also showed additional soft/connective tissue benefits like decreased oxidative damage—which degenerates joints—and decreased inflammation.

Below are quick links to some of the clinical studies that have been conducted and posted to the U.S. National Library of Medicine's National Center for Biotechnology Information:

What is photobiomodulation?

Photobiomodulation is a form of red light therapy that produces a biochemical reaction within blood cells. This biochemical reaction stimulates healing, decreases inflammation and stiffness and reduces pain. The increased function allows you to get back to doing the things you love.

It uses harmless LEDs (light emitting diodes) in two specific red light frequencies (660nm and 850nm) to penetrate to different depths of human tissue. These light frequencies boost energy production in the mitochondria, especially in cells when energy production is depleted due to arthritis or hand joint ailments.

It does not work by infrared heat. It works because our cells contain “chromophores” that absorb light. Once the light is absorbed, the chromophores produce a biochemical effect in cells that strengthen the mitochondria. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell—it’s where the cell’s energy is created.

The energy-carrying molecules found in the cells of all living things is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the fuel your cells need for all of their varied functions, including ion transport, synthesizing and metabolism. Remarkably, your body produces your bodyweight in ATP every day. And, while you can survive for several minutes without oxygen, were all ATP production to suddenly stop, you'd die within 15 seconds. Thanks to the transportation capabilities of ATP, the positive biochemical reactions between chromophores, mitochondria and ATP can then extend to cells that have not even been exposed to the light.

The dual light frequencies used by Triumph LTD Hand Therapy increase the function of the mitochondria, allowing a cell to make more ATP. With additional energy, cells can function more efficiently, rejuvenate themselves and repair damage.

How does photobiomodulation (red light therapy) compare to ibuprofen for pain relief?

When photobiomodulation is compared to a similar rate of pain attenuation using anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (NSAIDs), the users treated with photobiomodulation were free from any side effects, while 20% of patients treated with NSAIDs suffered unacceptable side effects from their medication.  

If the photobiomodulation science is so effective, why doesn’t everyone know about it?

Prescription drug companies spend over $3 billion per year on consumer advertising, and prescription drug spending in the United States is forecast to hit $610 billion by 2020. The healthcare system is driven by Big Pharma. Every time you take a pill, you put money in the pockets of the drug companies. Prescriptions need to be written by your doctor. So, the more drugs you take, the more office visits you have, the more money the clinic makes. The more prescriptions you have, the more the pharmacies sell.

One Triumph device lasts a lifetime and replaces thousands of dollars in patent visits and arthritis drug prescriptions. This is not good news for Big Pharma and disincentivizes the market from touting the benefits of red-light therapy.

In addition, many photobiomodulation studies have yielded mixed results due to the variables in delivering the red-light treatment. Most companies try to sell a one-device-treats-all unit, which doesn’t work due to varying tissue thickness of different areas of the body. An effective treatment device must be designed specifically for an individual treatment site like we do with Triumph LTD Hand Therapy.

What makes Triumph LTD Hand Therapy unique? 

The key differentiator of Triumph LTD Hand Therapy is the precise control with which the proper light therapy is delivered at precisely the correct dose of light during each treatment session. Designed specifically for hand treatment, it eliminates the variables of light frequency and intensity: distance from the lights, treatment time and dosing. The medical community has been calling for treatment-site specific devices and Triumph LTD Hand Therapy is the first to fill the need as a hand therapy device.   

Triumph LTD Hand Therapy’s unique attributes include:

  • A combination of both 660nm and 850nm LEDs (light emitting diodes) are the sweet spot of the optical window and provide the best cellular response for photobiomodulation cellular treatment
  • A warm hand chamber promotes circulation and relaxes the hand
  • Vibration massage of the hand during the treatment session increases blood and lymphatic activity, provides comfort and joint relaxation and increases flexibility
  • High-intensity LEDs measured in joules ensure deep penetration of the light into the hand tissue
  • Controlled distance between the LEDs and finger joints and hands ensure full light coverage
  • Simultaneous treatment of both the back and palm of the hand
  • Controlled treatment session time delivers the proper photonic dose

Why add heat and vibration massage to the red light therapy?

Vibration massage and heat work together to provide comfort and reduce pain. The two complement each other to promote circulation so the red light treatment can have maximum results.

  • Heat therapy works by stimulating your body's own healing force. Heat dilates the blood vessels, stimulates blood circulation and reduces muscle spasms. In addition, heat changes the sensation of pain.
  • Vibration massage provides soothing relief for arthritis or other chronic conditions that result in pain in your fingers or hands. A variable speed vibration motor built into the hand grip begins to work immediately, providing a subtle, yet effective comfort by increasing blood circulation. In addition, vibration massage acts as a sensory distraction, interrupting chronic pain signals traveling to your brain thus helping provide relief without pills.

Why use both 660nm red LEDs and 850nm NIR (near infrared) LEDs?

Most wavelengths of light (ultraviolet, blue, green, infrared) do not penetrate the skin at all. Instead, they are absorbed into the outer layers of skin.

Red light and near-infrared are part of the therapeutic optical window. These wavelengths are able to significantly penetrate through the skin and into the tissue, giving them therapeutic benefits.

Triumph LTD Hand Therapy uses both 660nm and 850nm light because chromophores have an optical tissue window that ranges from 600nm to 1,400nm. Research has proven that light frequencies of 660nm and 850nm have the best tissue penetration. This optical tissue window allows the light to penetrate several millimeters and up to one inch or more into the hand tissue to treat the entirety of the hand and joints.

  • 850nm is NIR (near infrared) is invisible to the human eye, but its wavelength allows it to penetrate over one inch into the hand tissue
  • 660nm is called deep red light and can penetrate up to one quarter inch into the hand tissue
  • One of the reasons Triumph LTD Hand Therapy is so profoundly effective is because of the anti-inflammatory effects of 660nm and 850nm light frequencies, which deactivate seven of the nine enzymes that cause inflammation by up to 70%
  • Researchers working with NASA have found that light therapy using 660nm to 850nm can travel through skin and muscle tissue to prompt tissue and deep wound healing.

Another advantage of using these two specific frequencies is that deep red and infrared light penetrate the skin without cutting it. Additionally, there is evidence that deep red and infrared light stimulates mitochondrial functioning. Mitochondria are part of the cells that stimulate healing and produce protein and collagen.

Why don’t all the LEDs on Triumph glow red?

Triumph uses both 660nm and 850nm red-light frequencies. The 660nm is called deep red and visible to the human eye. It is the red glow you see when the unit is on.

The 850nm LEDs are near infrared (NIR), which is a light frequency that is invisible to the human eye. Don’t worry, they are all on!

What should I know about proper dosing?

Everyone understands that taking the proper dose of any medical treatment is critically important. Over-dosing or under-dosing will not produce the desired results. Red light therapy also has a specific dose requirement for optimal treatment. It is important to realize that photobiomodulation doses are highly biphasic. This means the maximum benefits may not be realized if you’re using too little or too much light. There is a specific photonic dose range that produces the benefits. More doesn’t mean better when it comes to photobiomodulation. Although over-dosing will not cause any harm, it may take away some of the benefits.

The therapeutic window of photobiomodulation is very narrow and must be precisely controlled. The proper dose of light energy delivered to a treatment area is dependent on these key factors:

  • Light frequency: Triumph uses both 660nm and 850nm, the optical window of the cell chromophores
  • Light intensity: Triumph uses 49 one-watt LEDs
  • Power density: Triumph is designed to specifically treat hands, so the power density is controlled by the physical design of the hand grip and light chamber. This is important in dosing because simply changing the distance between the hand and lights from 1” to 2” reduces the power density by a factor of four.
  • Treatment session length: the built-in 15-minute timer delivers the suggested 20 joules of light energy to the hands during each treatment session. The 20 joules measurement is the dose most experts recommend for optimum treatment results.

This is the beauty of Triumph Hand Therapy: we eliminate all of the variables and give you the proper mix of light frequency at the correct intensity and distance over the entire surface area of your finger joints for the proper treatment time. 

Are LEDs as effective as the red light laser therapy sessions my clinic offers?

Harvard researcher Michael Hamblin, PhD (widely regarded as the world’s top authority on photobiomodulation) has studied this in detail and has released the following statement on this subject:

“Most of the early work in this field was carried out with various kinds of lasers, and it was thought that laser light had some special characteristics not possessed by light from other light sources, such as LEDs. However, all the studies that have been done comparing lasers to equivalent light sources with similar wavelength and power density of their emission, have found essentially no difference between them.

So, spending a few hundred dollars on a Triumph LTD Hand Therapy unit is as effective as a $5,000-$30,000 medical laser device. Better yet, you don’t have to go to a clinic and pay $75-$300 per treatment. Once you own a device, you can do unlimited treatments at home for no additional cost and get all the same benefits. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars by not having to receive the same treatment at a medical clinic or pharmacy.

Is Triumph red light therapy for me?

We can all stand to be more proactive and personally involved in our own health care. Deciding on an arthritis treatment is not easy, as many involve drugs with serious side effects. The photobiomodulation therapy of Triumph is unlike any offered by typical Big Pharma. One Triumph LTD Hand Therapy device provides years of scientifically-proven therapy and hand relief. Arthritis drug prescriptions are very expensive and must be taken on a daily basis. The costs quickly compound as long as you stay on the medications. In most cases, the investment in a Triumph LTD Hand Therapy device is quickly recouped with all the office and prescription co-pay savings.

You need to do your own research to make an informed decision. Look at the extensive list of medical references and resources at the bottom of this page. The science supporting Triumph LTD Hand Therapy is overwhelming: no side effects, no drugs and no surgery. 

Technically speaking, what is the science supporting photobiomodulation (red light therapy)?

Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation, is defined as a form of light therapy that utilizes non-ionizing light sources—including lasers, light emitting diodes, and/or broadband light—in the visible (400 – 700nm) and near-infrared (700 – 1100nm) electromagnetic spectrum.

In technical terms, it is a non-thermal process involving endogenous chromophores eliciting photophysical (linear and nonlinear) and photochemical events at various biological scales. This process results in beneficial therapeutic outcomes, including but not limited to the alleviation of pain or inflammation, immunomodulation and promotion of wound healing and tissue regeneration. The term photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy is now being used by researchers and practitioners instead of terms such as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), cold laser or laser therapy.

The fundamental principles that define photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy, as currently understood in the scientific literature, are relatively straightforward. There is consensus in the scientific community that the application of a therapeutic dose of light to impaired or dysfunctional tissue leads to a cellular response mediated by mitochondrial mechanisms that reduce pain and inflammation and speed healing.

The primary target (chromophore) for the process is the Cytochrome C complex which is found in the inner membrane of the cell mitochondria. Cytochrome C is a vital component of the electron transport chain that drives cellular metabolism.

As light is absorbed, Cytochrome C is stimulated, leading to increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that facilitates energy transfer within the cell. In addition to ATP, light stimulation also produces free nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species. Nitric oxide is a powerful vasodilator and an important cellular signaling molecule involved in many physiological processes. Reactive oxygen species have been shown to affect many important physiological signaling pathways including the inflammatory response. In concert, the production of these signaling molecules has been shown to induce growth factor production, increase cell proliferation and motility and promote extracellular matrix deposition and pro-survival pathways. Outside the cell, nitric oxide signaling drives vasodilation, which improves microcirculation in the damaged tissue, delivering oxygen, vital sugars, proteins and salts while removing wastes.

The power plant of cells is located in the mitochondria, which are able to produce cellular energy or adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from pyruvate and oxygen. When tissues are stressed or suffer from a reduction of oxygen due to swelling, mitochondria make their own mitochondrial nitric acid (MtNO), which competes with oxygen. The MtNO bind to Cytochrome C oxidase (CcO) that displaces oxygen. This subsequently reduces ATP synthesis and increased oxidative stress, which leads to inflammation and pain.

Hypoxic, or stressed, tissues are affected by photobiomodulation in four stages: (1) light energy is absorbed by cytochrome c oxidase, triggering several downstream effects; (2) nitric oxide is released; (3) ATP is increased; and (4) oxidative stress is reduced. These biochemical intermediates affect components in the cytosol, cell membrane and nucleus that control gene transcription, cell proliferation, migration necrosis and inflammation. Light-activated lymphatic cells and blood cells can travel throughout the body for enhanced systemic benefits.

Clinical trials of a variety of single- and mixed-wavelength LED lamps have been taking place in hospitals in the U.S. and elsewhere. Results indicate that near-infrared light therapy accelerates cell growth at 150 to 200% compared to non-treated cells. Target wavelengths are 630-680nm, 730nm and 850-880nm, although research is continuing to determine what wavelengths are the most effective at stimulating cell growth. The Triumph LTD Hand Therapy device incorporates both 660nm and 850nm light frequencies and is the only product known to use high power, deep penetrating, 1watt LEDs.

Where can I go to read more about red light therapy and photobiomodulation?


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ATP - Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), is the energy currency of life. ATP is a high-energy molecule found in every cell. Its job is to store and supply the cell with needed energy.

Chromophores – A group of atoms and electrons forming part of an organic molecule that causes it to be colored.

Joules - the SI unit of work or energy, equal to the work done by a force of one newton when its point of application moves one meter in the direction of action of the force, equivalent to one 3600th of a watt-hour. 

Mitochondria – The rod-shaped organelles that can be considered the power generators of the cell, converting oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Nanometer (nm) - The abbreviation 'nm' stands for Nanometer - a unit of measurement that is one billionth of a meter long, (.000000001 (10^-9) of a meter). In the case of 650nm, we are referring to a visible section of the electromagnetic spectrum. In particular, it describes light that is deep red. In the visible light spectrum, the wavelength of red light ranges from 622 to 780 nanometers. Red light has the longest wavelength and the shortest frequency. NIR (near infrared light) has wavelengths between 700 and 1200nm and is not visible to the human eye.

Optical Window - Your skin blocks most light frequencies including ultraviolet, blue, green, and infrared. These light wavelengths are merely absorbed in the outer layers of skin. Only certain wavelengths of red light pass through the skin and into the joints and tissue. This is called the optical window and covers the light frequency range of 600nm-1000nm. Within this range there are specific light frequencies that have the greatest absorption within human cells and that is why Triumph uses both 660nm and 850nm LEDs. These belong to the therapeutic optical window. These wavelengths are able to significantly penetrate through the skin and into the tissue to cause healing.

Photobiomodulation - A form of light therapy that utilizes non-ionizing light sources, including lasers, light-emitting diodes, and/or broadband light, in the visible (400–700 nm) and near-infrared (700–1100 nm) electromagnetic spectrum.