Infrared light therapy is a unique form of treatment where the healing effect of light is utilized for treating various medical conditions. In this therapy, the injury site or the diseased part of the body is exposed to infrared radiation for a specific amount of time which provides relief from the discomfort. The biggest advantage of this therapy is that it is a very simple process and is absolutely painless. It gives the much-needed relief to the patient almost instantly. Moreover, the effect of an hour-long treatment remains for several hours.
Infrared light is an electromagnetic radiation whose wavelength is longer than that of visible light but is shorter than radio waves. It is invisible to the naked eye but we can feel its heat effect. Any kind of radiation that we perceive as heat; be it from the sun, fire or a light bulb, are actually transmitted by infrared rays. It has the ability to penetrate 2-3 centimeters deep into the skin surface. A distinguishing trait is that it has all the benefits of natural rays of the sun without the harmful effects of solar radiation.
Infrared light therapy is a form of phototherapy where it is directly applied to your body to cure illness. No medicines are involved in this treatment. The injured or painful part of the body is first wrapped up with some pads that contain small LEDs that emit infrared rays. When infrared light enters the skin surface, it facilitates release of nitric oxide.
This particular component relaxes the blood vessels and prevents formation of blood clots. Thus it improves blood circulation to the affected area. As more and more blood reach the damaged tissue, the supply of oxygen and valuable nutrients to it also increases. In this way, it ensures faster healing of damaged tissues.
Infrared light can be used for the treatment of minor problems like acne to more serious ailments like chronic arthritic pain or high blood pressure. Some important uses are as follows:
Cure for Acne - When infrared light is used to treat acne, ATP (Adenosine triphosphate, a molecule that transfers chemical energy within cells for metabolic processes) in the skin cells gets activated and kills the bacteria present in the skin pores. When there is no bacteria, the skin inflammation goes down and acne is cured.
Chronic Pain Relief - Chronic pain resulting from arthritis, neck pain or stiff muscles can be treated with the help of this therapy. When it is administered on a tender spot, the taut muscles loosen up and the accompanying pain is relieved.
Treating Sports Injury - Most of the aches, soreness and swellings that athletes suffer from are either due to sprains or due to nerve cell damage. These rays soothe the nerve tract and stimulate the pituitary gland which releases endorphins in the body. Endorphins are commonly referred to as 'natural pain relievers'. With the release of endorphins, pain is alleviated naturally.
Healing Diabetic Wounds - Diabetic patients have low levels of nitric oxide in blood because their insulin-dependent blood vessels become less responsive to nitric oxide. Hence, in case of an external injury, their wound takes longer time to heal up. Infrared light facilitates the release of nitric oxide, which in turn, improves blood flow. Due to increase in blood circulation, wounds heal up quickly.
Lowering High Blood Pressure - High blood pressure can lead to various life-threatening diseases like heart attack and stroke. When a person is suffering from high blood pressure, it means that the heart has to work hard to maintain proper supply of blood throughout the body. Application of infrared rays increases the blood circulation in the body. So, the heart does not have to strain itself to pump out the blood. This helps to reduce blood pressure.
This therapy is considered as one of the safest forms of treatment provided it is done under the supervision of an experienced practitioner. Researchers, so far, have not found any major side effects of this treatment. Some minor side effects like anxiety, depression and mania can be observed in some patients undergoing the treatment. These kinds of mood alterations are easily controllable.
As we already know, that there are no major side effects. However, before administering infrared light, the physical condition of the patient should be tested. There are certain physical conditions in which this treatment should be strictly avoided. They are:
- If the patient's eyes are sensitive towards photo-toxicity.
- If a patient has a past medical history of mood disorder like mania.
- If the patient has photo-sensitive skin.
- If the patient is taking any kind of photosensitizing medicine.
- If the patient has inherited or acquired any disorder like porphyria (a rare enzyme disorder that affects the skin and nervous system)
Recently, medical researchers have found preliminary evidence that this therapy can be used on patients suffering from loss of vision due to over-exposure to light. Lots of research is going on to find out whether diseases like cancer or tumor can be diagnosed with the help of this therapy. Many experts believe that it has the potential to revolutionize the world of medicine in future.