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

Pain Rep. 2021 Dec 8;6(4):e968. doi: 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000968. eCollection 2021 Nov-Dec.


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.

Keywords: Blue light; Hyperalgesia; Neuropathic pain; Therapy; Treatment.