The national therapeutic goods regulator has approved a wearable pain relief technology that uses laser therapy to treat pain, including from conditions like arthritis.

Dr Eeshan Kulkarni

The product, produced by Brisbane-based wearable therapeutics company CareWear consists of adhesive patches and a rechargeable wireless controller.

It delivers a form of light therapy known as photobiomodulation (PBMT), which can improve tissue repair and reduce inflammation and is used to treat arthritis, backpain, sports injuries and swelling of the mouth tissue associated with cancer treatment.

According to the TGA, the device is intended to emit ‘optical power in the blue or blue and red spectra’ using LEDs and thermal conduction to treat pain, relieve muscle and joint stiffness and accelerate recovery from soft tissue injuries.

CareWear Australia CEO Dr Eeshan Kulkarni says the technology uses controlled doses of pulsated light to treat pain.

“We’ve known that light can be used to improve our mental and physical health for decades, whether that’s natural light from the sun or LED lights,” Dr Kulkarni said.

“By using different wavelengths of light, be it red and blue, we have created a printed therapy solution.”

A component of pain management

National Chair of the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) Pain Group Tim Austin said chronic pain conditions like arthritis usually require a multi-dimensional management approach.

Tim Austin

He said while pain relief devices can be a component of a comprehensive management plan, they shouldn’t be considered as an isolated treatment.

“There are numerous potential strategies which may be indicated for the management of chronic pain,” he told Community Care Review.

“The strongest evidence exists for active therapies, such as exercise and active psychological strategies.”

The product is currently being using in trials in the Mater hospital and early indications show it was able to significantly reduce knee pain, Dr Kulkarni said.

A larger clinical trial is planned for later this year.

The product has approval from the US FDA and is currently on sale in the US, where it’s manufactured. It is also being used by professional sporting teams.

It’s expected to be available in Australia from the end of the year.

CareWear hopes to have the product added to the PBS.

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