Infrared therapy uses light to treat acute or chronic pain. Unlike ultraviolet light – which has damaging effects upon the tissues and cells of the body – infrared light helps cells regenerate or repair themselves. Infrared light also improves the circulation of oxygen-rich blood in the body, promoting faster healing of deep tissues and relieving pain.
Infrared light therapy has wavelengths of light between 700nm and 1mm that are delivered to targeted parts of the body where there is pain or inflammation. Even though the light directly penetrates the skin, Infrared light is natural and painless and does not in any way damage the skin through UV radiation as compared to ultraviolet light, which may damage tissues and cells of the body. It is generally safe and has no adverse side effects that it can even be used for infants.
How does Infrared Light Therapy work?
Infrared light promotes faster healing of deep tissues by penetrating into the skin and improves the circulation of oxygenated blood in the body thus relieving pain. Infrared light therapy can penetrate deeply so that it can help even harder to reach cells and tissues.
When infrared light reaches the smallest unit in our body which are the cells, it is absorbed by the power generators of the cell which are called mitochondria. This increases the cell’s metabolism which stimulates healing in the muscle, bone, skin, and subcutaneous tissue.
Improving the metabolism of the cells will result in an increase in blood flow. A vital component for this is the release of nitric oxide which is a molecule that signals the blood flow when activated. Increased blood flow helps bring oxygenated blood and nutrients to different parts of the body most especially to areas where there is pain. Aside from that, increased blood flow also paves way for body wastes to be drained from the body faster. All these are crucial in the healing process which reduces the inflammation and pain of the affected area.
What Types of Pain Can Infrared Light Therapy Treat?
Natural light enhances activity within the lymph system, which has been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Infrared light therapy is known to treat chronic and temporary inflammation, making it useful in the treatment of:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Knee pain and stiffness
- Chronic Neck Pain
- Chronic Back Pain
- Muscle soreness
- Tendon Inflammation (Tennis Elbow, Achilles Tendon Inflammation, etc.)
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Surgical incisions
Red light therapy’s positive effects on arthritis, joint pain, and inflammation have been well-documented across hundreds of trials over the last thirty years with overwhelmingly positive results and without the common side effects usually seen with drug or chemical therapy, UV rays and other invasive procedures.
Photomedicine researchers in Brazil published a study in late 2018 showing that infrared light therapy decreased all cytokine levels after therapy and increased immune cell populations in mammals. This literally changes the inflammatory course of arthritis and accelerates the photostimulation of immune cells necessary for healing.
There is also evidence to support the relief of nerve pain. An article in the journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology looked at infrared’s ability to stimulate nerves and support wound healing. That study concluded, “Nerve cells respond particularly well to infrared radiation.”
Are there any side effects and risks in using Infrared Light Therapy to relieve pain?
Light therapy is occasionally referred to as “radiation therapy,” which leaves some people to believe that it carries the same risks as sun exposure. This is not the case. Radiation simply refers to any energy coming from a source.
Red and infrared LEDs produce non-ionizing forms of radiation. This means red and infrared light therapy devices do not pose the same risks as UV light or X-rays.
While ionizing radiation contains enough energy to affect the structure of atoms, non-ionizing radiation in LED light therapy treatments does not have that same negative effect.
Infrared light therapy has been tested and analysed in thousands of peer-reviewed trials. The consensus among medical researchers and the clinical community is that natural light treatments are safe, well-tolerated, and produce little to no side effects. For example dermatology researchers from Harvard Medical School conducted a review of red light therapy in 2013 and mentioned specifically its “noninvasive nature and almost complete absence of side effects.”
How often should you use Infrared Light Therapy to alleviate pain?
Frequency of sessions will depend on your alignment and the severity. Clients with chronic pain who have regular weekly sessions find this helps manage their ongoing pain issues by staying ahead of the inflammation and helps proactively manage their pain. If the pain is temporary then 2-3 sessions may be what you need.
If you are unsure, discuss your needs with our friendly staff who will help you sort through what’s right for your needs