HealthDay News — Light therapy is associated with reduction in pain intensity and improvement in depressive symptoms in patients with chronic nonspecific back pain, according to a study published in Pain Medicine.

To examine incorporation of light therapy in the treatment of chronic nonspecific back pain (CNBP), Veronika Leichtfried, PhD, of the Institute for Sports Medicine in Hall in Tyrol, Austria, and colleagues conducted a randomized, controlled study.

Over three weeks, 125 patients who reported pain intensity of ≥ three points on item five of the Brief Pain Inventory were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: the active treatment group (n=36), the sham treatment group (n=36), or the control group (n=33). Participants in the active treatment group received three supplementary light exposures of 5,000 lx; participants in the sham group received light exposures of 230 lx. Participants in the control group were assigned usual care.

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Compared with the control group, the changes in pain intensity were higher in the bright light group (effect size, D=0.46). The intervention group also had higher changes in depression score compared with controls (effect size, D=0.86). For the intervention versus sham group, there were no differences in the change scores.

“Light therapy even in low [doses] could improve depressive symptoms and reduce pain intensity in CNBP patients,” concluded the authors.

“Further research is needed for optimizing parameters of frequency, dose, and duration of therapeutic light exposure.”


  1. Leichtfried V et al. Pain Medicine. 2014; doi: 10.1111/pme.12503


One author is the owner of the light device used in this trial; the study was funded by the lighting-network K-Licht.

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor