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Is pain with you every moment of the day? From the moment that you wake up, through the middle of the day – where you might have to rely on medication to keep you going at work – to your troubled nights, where it’s difficult to get proper rest? And well-meaning friends and family have recommended all sorts of remedies and treatments. After all, they hate seeing you in pain and just want you to feel better! But it’s hard to separate what’s scientific from what’s… not.

I previously wrote about the science behind acupuncture for chronic pain relief, but I have to do the same for infrared light therapy – because not enough people know about the benefits – and the science that backs it up. After all, if there was a treatment for chronic pain that was non-invasive, didn’t involve medication, and was over within an hour, wouldn’t you want to hear about it? Infrared light therapy for arthritis is life-transforming.

What Is Infrared Therapy?

Infrared light therapy (or photobiomodulation) may sound scary – like you’re going to be stuffed inside a microwave oven! But it’s actually a gentle, non-invasive and safe treatment. What can be treated depends on the type of technology used in your therapy.

Some of my patients find their sessions quite relaxing, which doesn’t surprise me – using an infrared sauna can benefit patients under stress, as it can help regulate your cortisol levels. Cortisol is one of the hormones that is produced when stress triggers your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Unfortunately, instead of only being triggered when in dire danger, your HPA axis can be activated whenever you’re cut off in traffic, running late, or cornered at a party by your overbearing aunt! When cortisol is too high or too low, it can have a huge impact on your overall health.

A surge in cortisol in the short-term suppresses your inflammatory response, as cortisol is responsible for shutting down non-essential body processes in the event of an emergency. But the functions of cortisol are only meant to occur temporarily – when you or your body are under long-term stress, the suppression of your inflammatory response has repercussions.

But what do cortisol levels or infrared light have to do with pain?

How Infrared Therapy Pain Relief Works

When you step outside on a sunny day and feel the heat of the sun on you – that’s the infrared rays you can feel. Infrared light therapy allows you to enjoy the benefits of this natural beneficial light – without the dangers of its sister UV rays.

The deep penetration of infrared light works on a cellular level – improving the way mitochondria in the cell function. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, as they’re responsible for creating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy needed for all cell processes. So, it’s like the infrared light supercharges your cells, helping with repairs and keeping your cells healthy. As such, infrared therapy was initially used to aid wound healing and for cosmetic effect via increasing collagen to reduce wrinkles.

Infrared light can also:

All of these elements work together to provide patients with some relief from a variety of chronic pain issues.

Does Infrared Heat Help Arthritis and Other Long-Term Pain?

Because of the way infrared light works on cortisol levels, reducing oxidative stress, and supercharging your cells, it’s a powerful non-invasive option to add to your pain management plan.

Infrared light therapy can help with the following conditions:

So it’s clear that infrared heat has a wide variety of applications and may well be able to help you combat your pain problem – imagine spending less time managing your condition, and more time enjoying yourself!

What Should I Expect from Infrared Therapy?

Whether you choose the BioMat or the infrared sauna, your treatment is safe, non-invasive – and medication-free! But like anything new, it can sound a little intimidating. Here’s the low-down on what to expect when you do a treatment.

BioMat

The BioMat is a wonderful, comfortable mat to lie on, and it sends high-energy infrared light through you. You can use the BioMat in 15 or 30 minute blocks, and it really is as simple as kicking back and making yourself comfortable. I enjoy meditating when I use the BioMat – whatever you do, make sure your cellphone is off so you can relax. The BioMat warms you up as the rays penetrate your skin and tissues – it’s a pleasant sensation. I generally advise starting off at a low setting at 15 minutes each session to get you used to the sensation.

Remember to:

  • Drink water beforehand and afterwards.
  • Turn off your cellphone.
  • Always use the quilted cover and pillow supplied for your session.
  • Plan to relax the rest of the day–until you know how your body will respond to treatments.

Infrared Sauna

Our mPulse Believe infrared sauna is the only patented 3-in-1 infrared sauna. As it uses near, mid, and far infrared, there is a wide range of health benefits, as it targets not only your deep tissues but your skin as well! And despite the name, it doesn’t need to get as warm as a conventional sauna – infrared rays can penetrate your body without needing to warm up the air around you. As a beginner, you would start off at the lower temperature for 10 to 15 minute sessions until you acclimatize. Just like a regular sauna, our infrared sauna is a relaxing, tranquil place where you can be alone with your thoughts.  Sessions can be as long as 60 minutes once you are heat tolerate, however, 30 minutes is common for most people. Most people benefit from 3-5 sessions per week.

Remember to:

  • Drink water beforehand and afterwards.
  • Bring a book or meditate.
  • Avoid falling asleep (although most saunas will have a timer for you).
  • Give yourself time to cool down naturally before bathing (use an oil based soap).
  • Plan to relax the rest of the day–until you know how your body will respond to treatments.

Always speak to a doctor before beginning a course of infrared therapy – and don’t stop taking any medication without their knowledge. Infrared light therapy is an excellent addition to your pain management, and can help improve your quality of life – so why not give it a try?

At Arizona Wellness Medicine we have infrared therapy available via our mPulse Believe Sunlighten infrared sauna (full spectrum of infrared light), and our BioMat.

If you’re interested in checking out infrared sauna or BioMat treatments for pain management in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Arizona area, call to book an appointment at 602 892-4727 or fill out our contact form.

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