Anyone who has been badly injured, or undergone surgery, knows that drugs are their best friends. A few Tylenol-3s after breaking a leg or having their appendix out can make all the difference. However, all drugs come with a cost. Opiates, such as Morphine or the Codeine in Tylenol-3, are highly addictive substances, which our bodies will quickly become accustomed to having in our systems. Once addiction sets in, it is very difficult to get rid of.
What if there was a way to decrease the pain of an injury or a surgery site, without the chance of addiction? Why not Infrared Therapy?
Infrared light permeates the tissues around the injury or incision, drawing blood to the area, which increases healing. But the light can also have an effect on the pain signalling pathways. When infrared light therapy is used, it releases endorphins in the brain, which block the pain signals. Studies also show that acetylcholine and bradykinin are both modulated by the effects of infrared light, both of which are neurotransmitters involved with pain reception within the brain. In a study of patients suffering cervical vertebral osteoarthritis, 30 patients were treated with Infrared therapy. After therapy, the group receiving Infrared therapy showed marked improvement over the control group, that received only a placebo.
Besides the pain-relieving effects, studies have shown that healing rates post-surgery and post-injury are increased with the use of Infrared Therapy. Studies on soccer players with ankle injuries and studies on post-surgical patients independently showed increased healing, reduction in swelling, and return to weight-bearing or normal activities within a shorter time period than without Infrared Therapy.
One aspect to healing which is particularly important is that of inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to injury, which it can perceive as anything from the micro-tears associated with a strenuous workout to broken bones and beyond. In layman’s terms, inflammation is swelling. The body essentially puts a micro cast around anything that hurts, preventing its movement so that it will heal without damaging itself more. Cryotherapy, such as ice baths or placing an ice pack on the injury can help to reduce the swelling and inflammation. Infrared Therapy does the same, but with heat. As mentioned before, the light and heat affect the cells, bringing blood and immune system agents to the area. These agents speed up healing.
This healing effect can work on skin tissue as well as muscular, increasing tissue elasticity and reducing the evidence of scarring.
Infrared Therapy is a low-risk and high reward system of pain management, tissue recovery, and inflammation reduction. Anyone who has been injured knows that anything that will get them back on their feet again is the greatest thing in the world. Infrared Therapy might just be that thing.