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What is Inflammation?

We’ve all twisted an ankle, itched a mosquito bite, or scraped a knee, so we’ve also experienced the inflammatory response of our immune system. Inflammation is a natural and important response in our bodies that helps protect us when tissue damage occurs, but chronic inflammation or inflammation that attacks healthy tissue is harmful and can contribute to the development of more serious diseases. But what is inflammation, and since it’s natural—why does it happen?

Keep reading to learn more about the inflammatory response, when it can be harmful, and how photobiomodulation therapy can help resolve harmful inflammation.


Inflammation Defined

Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself from infection and injury. The inflammatory stage of the immune response increases production of white blood cells, immune cells, and cytokines to help fight infection. Inflammation is the rush of these cells and substances to the affected area. These are the emergency responders of your body, and they rush to the scene of an accident, which can cause swelling, pain, and redness of the skin.


Why Does Inflammation Happen?

A rush of infection-fighting cells and substances to an injured area helps ward off infection on the front lines. This is why even the area around a small paper cut may be raised and pink for a day or two after the cut happened. Skin is our first line of defense against infection, so a breach in the skin, however small, can invite harmful bacteria and viruses into the bloodstream.

In the case of an internal injury where the skin isn’t broken, like a sprained ankle, inflammation happens to help remove damaged or dead cells and initiate tissue repair. Another type of inflammation is a fever when our bodies are fighting off an infection like the flu or a cold.


How Can Inflammation be Harmful?

Inflammation is part of the natural healing process, but there are times when inflammation can be harmful for us. Prolonged inflammation, such as from a slow-healing wound, tendonitis, or osteoarthritis, can cause lasting pain and damage that impacts our range of motion and quality of life. Additionally, autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, attack healthy cells, causing inflammation.

When we usually think of inflammation, we think of something we can feel and see, like redness of the skin or swollen joints. However, inflammation can happen without our noticing, which can become dangerous if left untreated. Inflammation deep in the body caused by oxidative stress can lead to serious complications, like cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders like dementia.


How PBMT Helps Fight Harmful Inflammation

Photobiomodulation therapy is a type of light therapy that utilizes red and near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths of light to target the mitochondria of the body’s cells. These specific wavelengths of light, concentrated in LED or laser light, boost production of cellular energy (ATP) to help with the production of inflammatory mediators and increase circulation. With increased circulation and boosted cellular energy, inflammation can be resolved naturally and quickly for both acute and chronic injuries.

Additionally, red light in the right wavelengths has the ability to penetrate deeper into the body, resolving inflammation from oxidative stress and fighting an imbalance of free radicals we might not be aware of. Excess free radicals can be caused by environmental factors, like pollution, that we have a harder time controlling.

Photobiomodulation has also been shown to boost collagen production, which helps heal wounds and prevent the formation of scar tissue, as well as help repair existing scars and hyperpigmentation. While scars aren’t harmful on their own, they are more sensitive patches of skin that can be easily aggravated by sun exposure. A scar forms where the collagen protein matrix is compromised and isn’t properly realigned. By boosting production of collagen and cellular energy, PBMT can help repair the matrix and improve the appearance of scars.

Full body photobiomodulation is a type of LED light therapy that uses a red light bed and, instead of targeting a specific area, treats the whole body. This helps treat harmful inflammation that may not be apparent and fight any imbalance of free radicals.


TheraLight is a leader in photomedicine and full body light therapy, and we offer two full body photobiomodulation therapy systems to help individuals with a variety of concerns from skin surface to deep in the body. Click the link below to find a TheraLight provider near you and start your journey to full body wellness.

Photobiomodulation Therapy for Self Care
A Brief History of Red Light Therapy