Red light therapy Versus PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field)

Horse with red light therapy wrap on his back

Holistic treatments have gained importance in the field of medicine for an extended period. Nowadays, holistic remedies like red light therapy and pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) have become popular with everyone. As a result, people are more and more inclined towards holistic medicine therapy. In addition to human medicine, holistic techniques like red light therapy and PEMF therapy have become equally popular in veterinary medicine.


red light therapy practitioner and horse smiling

Pet parents are more intended towards alternate non-invasive treatments that bear no adverse effects. Companion animals are always prone to infections, joint injuries, and inflammation. In these types of issues, body cells are damaged, and they need the extra energy to heal the damage and revive. Unfortunately, body cells are deprived of energy, and red-light therapy and PEMF provide the cells with vital energy for healing and reviving.

I am writing this article owing to the increasing demand and interest in red-light therapy and PEMF therapy for horses. This article will educate you on what these techniques are and how both these techniques work.

Red Light Therapy Vs. PEMF

Both red light therapy and PEMF therapy are intended to increase the body’s energy and its ability to heal itself. However, red-light therapy is used to treat wounds/scars, inflammation, infection, tendon/ligaments injuries, joint/muscular pain and infections. At the same time, PEMF therapy is used to treat issues like arthritis, musculoskeletal issues, pain, and neurologic conditions. Both modalities are effective, and their therapeutic effects are almost the same. However, the application technique of each of these therapies are different, which I will discuss separately.

Red Light Therapy

Red and infrared light therapy wrap on horse

Red light therapy for animals works almost the same as it works on humans. It has such wide applications that it works for almost all the kind of lives. In this technique, red light waves are exposed to the affected part of the body for a period of time. This treatment works great when repeated for regular sessions but is also great for relieving pain and inflammation after the first session!

How Does it Work?

Red light therapy pads are used by practitioners who can discern to areas of concern and pair acupressure points to further its benefits. However, it can also be a convenient pain relief option for animal owners to use on their own animals. These pads can have LEDs or laser diodes as a source of red light. Specific wavelengths of red light are used that penetrate the skin, muscle, bone, and tissue. These wavelengths strike the photoreceptors of the body cells. Photoreceptors are sensitive to light waves, and body cells absorb the energy of light waves.

visual graph of light therapy depth penetration in the skin

Cells deficient in energy absorb light energy and develop self-healing potential. More than one wavelength of light is used, and all these wavelengths target the different layers of tissues. For example, red light waves mostly affect the cells or tissues possessing hemoglobin. And therefore, red light is effective in treating superficial wounds and stimulating the acupressure points.

red light therapy and acupressure points

Acupressure points are various pressure points throughout the body. These points are responsible for producing the body’s energy, i.e., ‘Chi.’ By applying a small amount of pressure or applying red light, these points stimulate and produce the body’s energy. This body energy is responsible for the self-healing potential of the tissues. Photopuncture is another word we use to describe the use of red light therapy to activate acupressure points.

Along with red light, near-infrared light waves are used in combination because near-infrared light waves can cross through hard tissues like bones, tendons, and ligaments. Therefore, an effective therapy always combines the use of red light and near-infrared light waves for better therapeutic effects.

Benefits of Red Light Therapy

red light therapy practitioner using red light therapy on pony

Red light therapy is an effective treatment for almost all animals; however, it is more frequently used for horses, pets and humans, where effective results have been seen. Red light therapy has been researched significantly with tons positive results!

Red light therapy is the core technique for improved blood circulation, reduced inflammation, muscle recovery, and improved regeneration/healing ability for wounds and sore muscles. It is essential for your active or work animal to be have relief from pain, inflammation, and prevention from other diseases. In addition, red light therapy enhances the immune system, treats injuries, swelling, arthritis, severe pains, and keeps good management of joints.

It does not matter if your animal works all day or remains in a recumbent state; red light therapy decreases the incidence of scar formation, prevents edema, and enhances the body’s immune system. You should remember that red light therapy is an alternative treatment that works along with the main treatment positively (complementary care). If you provide red light sessions regularly, even if your animal is healthy, it prevents your companion from future injuries.

Horse with PEMF treatment device
Photo credit: Durheim Equine

PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) Therapy

Magnetic therapy, or accurately the pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, is the type of holistic medicine that utilized electromagnetic fields to treat medical problems. This therapy finds its reference in history back in 2000 BC in China. In the past, people were more inclined towards holistic therapies. And now, in this modern world, people are again shifting towards these techniques due to their therapeutic effects. Furthermore, the discovery of ions and fluid in the tissues has made us believe that magnetic therapy really works.

How Does it Work?

PEMF loops on the horse for therapy
Photo credit: Durheim Equine

Magnets of different sizes and strengths are used for different durations on the affected area for magnetic therapy. These magnets are often tied, glued, or taped on the affected area for an hour at once. The working principle of red-light therapy and PEMF is almost the same, but the source of induction is different. In PEMF, magnets produce electromagnetic waves that go into the body and strike with tissue cells.

Tissue cells sense these waves and absorb their energy. Cells’ self-healing potential increases after absorbing the energy, and the patient feels relief after the treatment. The electromagnetic wavelengths strike the pressure points of the body. In response to the stimulus of electromagnetic waves, body cells produce the body energy or ‘Chi’ that is responsible for the self-healing potential of tissues.

Researches have proved the efficiency of PEMF devices in the non-invasive treatment of various issues. United States Food and Drug Authority has approved PEMF devices for human and animal use. Magnetic therapy has long been used in horses for clinical treatments. Several types of magnets are used in this regard, owing to the size of the animal and the area of use. These magnets are often available in strips, beads, and bars for use on various parts of the body.