If you work in the medical field or suffer from chronic pain yourself, you may have heard about the use of infrared light therapy for pain management. Often called IR for short, infrared light therapy is a painless method that uses light to treat both chronic and acute pain. But does it really work?
In a study conducted at the Rothbart Pain Management Clinic, infrared energy was applied to 40 people who were suffering from chronic lower back pain. The IR therapy unit used was shown to be effective in reducing chronic low back pain with no adverse side effects.
The use of infrared light as treatment isn’t new — in fact, it can be traced back over a hundred years to 1903, when scientist Niels Finsen won the Nobel Prize of Medicine for the use of light therapy (previously known as phototherapy). In the 1960s, LED therapy emerged and became a popular treatment method in Europe for chronic pain, arthritis, joint issues, and more.
Today, many studies have shown promising results for treating pain with infrared light. But how, exactly, does it work?
The Science Behind Infrared Light Therapy
IR therapy uses harmless wavelengths of light to penetrate the skin and reach muscles, nerves, and in some cases, bones. The infrared light is then absorbed by your body’s cells, specifically by the photoreceptors in those cells. This process then facilitates several metabolic processes, one of which is the production of nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is a gas that aids in the relaxation of the arteries, helps protect your body from free radicals by reducing oxidative stress, prevents platelet clotting, and keeps your blood pressure in check. In other words, the molecule facilitates blood circulation, which in turn helps your body carry oxygen and other nutrients to your cells. This process ultimately aids in the repairing of tissues and the reduction of pain and inflammation.
Unlike harmful ultraviolet light, which can damage your skin and impede cellular regeneration, infrared right is safe, gentle, and is virtually painless. Because of its safety and effectiveness, IR therapy is used to treat a variety of conditions.
How to Use Infrared Light Therapy for Pain
Because IR therapy is generally harmless, it can be used to treat chronic and acute pain brought on by many conditions. Here are a few conditions that chiropractors, physical therapists, and other medical professionals are treating through the use of infrared light therapy for pain.
- Back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Muscle strain
- Neck pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Surgical incisions
- Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)
In addition to being used as a solo therapy for these conditions, IR is also being utilized in combination with other therapies to enhance treatment results. For example, our AllCore360° machine was recently installed in a chiropractic facility within an infrared lightbox. AllCore360° works by helping patients stimulate every core muscle to aid in long-term fitness and rehabilitation. It helps improve core stability, balance, and coordination to build strength, improve balance, and increase endurance. Because of this, patients are able to gain and/or rehabilitate their core and back strength while also experiencing faster recovery times and pain relief that the infrared light provides.
Infrared Light Therapy: A Promising Treatment
While some people are still skeptical about the benefits of infrared light therapy for pain, the research thus far has proven it to be a viable treatment option for all types of ailments. It’s rare for any type of treatment to come without side effects, further explaining why IR has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Whether used on its own or in tandem with other therapies like AllCore360°, infrared light therapy remains a safe and effective way to improve blood circulation and promote healing while relieving pain.