Constant knee pain makes it hard to be active, so in mid 2015, I did a lot of sitting and reading. One of the books was Norman Doidge’s The Brain’s Way of Healing.
Chapter 4 covered the effect of red and near infrared light on the brain and spinal cord, and there were some remarkable stories told. In passing, Doidge mentioned the positive effect of red and near infrared light on arthritic joints and damaged tendons.
I went hunting on Google Scholar and found some medical journal articles that supported this possibility. I had no idea how this could be possible, but it was worth a try. I went hunting for a way to shine near infrared light on my sore knee.
It felt nice … even if it didn’t help the arthritis, it made the knee feel more human…
EBay had on sale a LED light, 850nm, designed to be screwed on an outside wall and to shine at night as part of a security system. I bought one (photographed below), stuck bluetack over the sensor so that it always came on when I turned it on, then shone it on the knee for an hour or more every day. It felt nice – the heat from the light was lovely. Even if it didn’t help the arthritis, it made the knee feel more human for a while.
While I was enjoying the 850nm light on my knee, I hunted and read medical research articles on the effect of red light on the body, and found some very exciting – and astounding – research on the effect of red and near infrared light on brain cells, as well as muscle cells and cartilage.
I asked Max, a friend with Parkinson’s Disease if he wanted to try it out. He did. I went hunting for the means to make a light hat, using the wavelengths that had been shown to be effective in the peer-reviewed literature. He started using a hat made with 670nm LED strip lights, 20 minutes daily. Over the next few months, his improvement was startling. He had been unable to play lawn bowls for over a year, as the fingers of his right side refused to release the bowl. Within six months, he resumed playing lawn bowls using his right hand.
As for the knee, after a month, pain levels had reduced, and three months after starting daily light, I needed no pain medication and realised that I was walking with a limp out of habit. All that needed to be done to keep the knee happy was to shine light on it every day. Not a difficult thing to do.
Life was so much better without knee pain, and I had a new project, making red and near infrared devices, and seeing whether they worked, and a willing guinea-pig in Max. More.