Light at the End of the Tunnel for Chronic Pain
As Prof Tolle points out, we all feel better on a bright day. Light boxes are already used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and are sometimes suggested for insomnia. But this is the first time continuous bright-light therapy has been tried for chronic pain.
Andreas Wojtysiak, an Osram biologist, explains that the aim is to reset the body’s internal 24-hour clock - the circadian rhythm - which is often upset in people coping with pain, affecting sleep. This in turn exacerbates pain sensations.
“Studies show that if we don’t get proper restorative sleep, we are more prone to depression and to sensations of pain.”
Prof Tolle adds: “Patients often note a reduction in pain if they have slept well and managed to relax.” Sleeping pills can help, he says, but are not a long-term solution. “And the quality of sleep won’t necessarily be good enough to make you feel refreshed.
“We believe that the stimulation of the retina with this intensive light can regulate sleep naturally, and we are looking at a possible causal link between additional light, better moods and reduced pain.”