Infrared radiation therapy in physiotherapy is drug-free and non-invasive light-based technology that provides a broad range of health benefits. It is an alternative treatment to heal acute to chronic pain and various other health conditions. It is safer than ultraviolet rays, which can damage the skin.
Infrared rays are just above visible light with a wavelength of 770nm to 1mm in an electromagnetic spectrum. These rays are relatively safe as they are used to warm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.
As a therapy, the injured or the pain area is exposed to the infrared radiations, which increases the blood flow and oxygen to various parts of the body. This process reduces inflammation and facilitates healing.
This therapy works like a hot compressor that radiates heat on the focus area and results in rapid relief.
Alongside physiotherapy, infrared therapy when used enhances the healing effect of musculoskeletal pain.
Physiotherapy is an exercise-based therapy used to strengthen the muscles and improve function using suitable training and exercise. Its core approach lies in rehabilitation, prevention and treatment of illnesses, injury and diseases.
Infrared therapy in Physiotherapy can aid in recovering faster. While Physiotherapy will do its best, Infrared radiations will penetrate deep into the body, providing therapeutic benefits to the affected area.
High intensive training and exercises may lead to injuries, followed by pain and inflammation. In such cases, the physiotherapist is no doubt specialists in sports injuries; however, if infrared physiotherapy is used in combination, it will accelerate healing.
Infrared radiation has therapeutic properties that when penetrates 2-7 centimetres deep into the layers of the skin increases blood circulation in different parts of the body and brings oxygen and healing nutrients to the cells. This stimulates in regeneration and repair of new cells and tissues, thus relieving pain, inflammation and curing injuries.
It can also cure bone fracture. As per the study conducted by the research paper, “The Effects of Infrared Light on Bone Healing,” a 15-year-old athlete had avulsion fracture. The patient was under medication of 3200mg Ibuprofen, daily. The usual prognosis would take 22 weeks but with infrared treatment for 20 minutes daily, the number of days was reduced to just five weeks. On consulting an orthopaedic, the patient was reported to be 100 per cent fit to get back to running. The result was so profound that the patient stopped taking medicines.
Infrared radiations are known to improve cardiovascular health. Its key molecule nitric oxide (NO) plays an integral part in keeping blood vessels healthy. This molecule relaxes the vessels and prevents the blood platelets from clumping together.
It also regulates blood pressure and increases the oxygen-and-nutrient-rich blood to the injured area, which enables in faster healing. Moreover, it repairs injured tissues and relieves pain.
Infrared technology has shown remarkable health results on the detoxifying body. The detoxification takes place in major organs like kidneys, respiratory system, liver and many others.
This process rejuvenates skin and increases oxygen flow to the cells and tissues. It kills pathogens and increases the metabolic activities in the system. Distresses and restores a healthy body and mind.
A journal, Pain Research and Management that covers all aspects of pain management, included the effect of infrared therapy on chronic low back pain in "A double-blind, placebo-controlled study" section. A study was done on participants suffering from low back pain from over six years. They were randomly grouped under Infrared Therapy and Placebo group. The participants were treated for seven weeks, and at the end of the seventh week, the Infrared Therapy group was reported to have 50 per cent less back pain as compared to the placebo group.
This therapy also improves blood flow into the pain area, and reduces swelling and muscle spasms, thereby strengthening the functioning of the muscles.
1. Harmful to skin
Infrared radiation penetrates 65 per cent in the dermis, and this can be harmful to the skin. Constant exposure to the radiation increases skin temperature and decreases the production of elastin and collagen in the skin. This leads to ageing due to light called photoaging. It can also affect the DNA through oxidation.
Infrared radiation on a tattooed body can cause inflammation. Prolonged exposure to infrared emissions is believed to harm the blood vessels.
2. Unsafe to Eyes
Eyes are more sensitive to electromagnetic radiation. Prolonged exposure could affect the flow of protein in the lens needed for a clear vision. It could also cause retinal burns or could lead to cataract formation.
This therapy is not suitable for pregnant women, patients who have undergone knee or hip replacement or have any metal implants in their body. Patients using photosensitive medicines like lithium, melatonin and other antibiotics have to avoid getting exposed to the infrared radiations.
People should have personal protective equipment to cover their exposed skin. They should keep the utmost safety to cover their body with non-photosensitizing material to protect the body from harmful radiations.
So, it is necessary to check if the infrared radiations are suitable for the body-type before entering the infrared radiation room.