CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME – INFRARED TREATMENT
Infrared light therapy harnesses the power of the infrared wavelengths of light to aid the healing process. When infrared energy is delivered to injury sites and other painful areas, it has been shown to dramatically increase circulation, reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Benefits of using infrared light:
Infrared light therapy has been used by the medical profression, safely and effectively for more than 40 years. Infrared therapy has been used to reduce pain and inflammation and promote tissue regeneration for a number of painful muscular and joint disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome.
In the words of one of the advocates of this kind of therapy: infrared light will gently heal, soothe, stimulate and detox the physical body – as well as the mind.
So how does it work?
Infrared light therapy is an everyday term for the science of photobiomodulation.
The mechanism of photobiomodulation – or photobiostimulation as the process is sometimes called – operates at the cellular level and is still not completely understood. Nevertheless it has been shown to work effectively in healing a wide variety of conditions; infrared rays penetrate deep into the body, gently stimulating our natural healing mechanism.
Infrared energy heats the body from the inside, up to several inches deep. The heat that infrared lamps deliver can improve circulation, hydration and oxygenation and will often disable or weaken harmful microorganisms, As a result, infrared treatment is often used to help treat joint and muscle pain. Near infrared also has other healing effects.
Before we go too far, it is necessary to define what we are talking about here.
What we see – the world of visible light – is just a small part of what is known as the electromagnetic spectrum of radiation, which ranges all the way from gamma rays at very short wavelengths (and correspondingly dangerously high energies) to low energy radio waves with wavelengths of over a mile.
The wavelengths that our eye can see are limited to those between around 400-700 nm (a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter), a tiny fraction of this huge spectrum. The infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum lies beyond the red. This portion of the spectrum is invisible to human eyes.
Infrared (IR) light immediately follows red light on the electromagnetic spectrum. For practical purposes, scientists break down this light energy into three groups.
Near Infrared: spans wavelengths 760 to 1,400 nm. Most home therapy devices use these wavelengths.
Mid Infrared wavelengths are used in many household electronic devices such as remote controls and are of no interest to us here.
Far Infrared also known as light or long wave infrared light, is used in infrared saunas. This is often defined as any radiation with a wavelength of 15 micrometers (µm) through to 1 mm. Different sources use different boundaries for the far infrared spectrum; for example, astronomers sometimes define far infrared as wavelengths between 25 µm and 350 µm.
Far Infrared (FIR) Therapy:
First of all let’s talk about far infrared light. Far Infrared light rays are invisible waves of energy that have the ability to penetrate all layers of the human physical body, penetrating into the innermost regions of the tissues, muscles and bone.
Far Infrared therapy is a Naturopathic Technology that improves the natural healing processes. Far Infrared Heat Therapy actually resonates with the water molecules in the body – we are composed of 90% water – to increase blood circulation, improve the immune system and help soft tissues heal faster. Far Infrared therapy is therefore a form of thermal healing.
An ancient healing technique:
Interestingly, use of Far Infrared Light ia an ancient technique, which uses these waves of energy to slightly elevate the surface temperature of the body. When we induce a very small increase in the temperature of the body, we can enhance its functioning on multiple levels.
Our hands, bodies and the sun all emit far infrared light all the time. In Ancient China, palm healing was used to pass these infrared rays from one person to another. In modern times, this is commonly referred to as Reiki.
The Yogis of Ancient India also used FIR in palm healing, and particularly found it useful to place palms over the eyes in the case of eye dryness or strain. Many types of thermal healing have been used in ancient civilizations including Japan, China, India, the Americas, Northern Europe and ancient Rome.
Detox, relieve stress, pain and discomfort:
The sweating quality that comes from Far Infrared Therapy helps us detox from the enormous levels of pollution in modern times. It is also crucial for relieving pain and discomfort in those conditionsn where there is redness and swelling.
Clinical studies done in both the USA and Japan, found that:
“much of the stiffness, aches and soreness that comes with aging is reduced or eliminated…” and
“whole body far infrared heat relieved pain from burns and decreased healing time with less scarring…”
Heart studies done by The Mayo Clinic and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that infrared sauna therapy significantly improved blood vessel functioning in high-cholesterol, diabetes and smoking patients. The therapy also was found to increase circulation, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and help in weight loss.
Spa or Home Sauna?
Many health centers and spas provide facilities for an infrared sauna. Traditional saunas heat the body primarily by conduction and convection from the heated air and by radiation of the heated surfaces in the sauna room.
Infrared saunas use infrared heaters to emit infrared light, which is experienced as radiant heat that is absorbed by the surface of the skin.
Far infrared saunas are now available as units for your home; it is argued that investing in a personal sauna is an investment in your long-term health and well-being.
Far infrared devices:
However, heated saunas are only one of the ways to deliver the radiation in a controlled environment and within a convenient treatment time.
With the development of better technology to deliver pure far infrared radiation, the benefits of far infrared radiation can be experienced by a much larger number of people.
Nowadays, there are stand-alone FIR emitting heat lamps that can deliver radiation to the body in a controlled way, thus providing all the health and healing benefits of FIR in a controlled way.
There are also garments availkable that are made up of filaments (fibers) impregnated with FIR emitting nanoparticles; these provide an alternative way of delivering these thermal radiation effects top specific parts of the body.
Near Infrared (FIR) Therapy:
Near infrared light therapy is essentially the same as red light therapy, except that infrared energy is invisible … and it penetrates the body deeper than red light, reaching deep into soft tissues, muscles, joints, and bone.
Thus, in simple terms Near Infrared lLght therapy is where light therapy gets serious.
The combination of red light therapy with near infrared energy is being researched for amazing things such as the reversal of traumatic brain injury, stopping and healing the debilitating effects of stroke and heart attack, and the regeneration of damaged nerves and severed spinal cords.
While all of that is unfortunately still years away from common practice, the power of near infrared light therapy has already been FDA approved and is available in-home for the relief of chronic pain.
As with red light therapy, near infrared light therapy does not mask the symptoms of pain, it encourages the healing of the actual cause of the pain and so, in many cases, after a course of treatment with infrared light, the pain is gone for good.
Although Near Infrared Light therapy is referred to as photobiomodulation, biostimulation, photobiostimulation, or a fist-full of other medical sounding terms, the fact is,that it is just the simple application of red light and/or near infrared energy to the body.
Effective wavelengths of this therapy range from 700 nm to 1400 nm.
The whole range of light energy wavelengths have the same healing and therapeutic effect, the big difference is:
the longer the wavelength, the deeper it penetrates into the body.
So, for applications effecting the surface of the skin, red light therapy (620nm-700nm) is perfectly adequate. For the healing of deep wounds or the relief of deep muscle and joint pain, the longer wavelengths of near infrared are more beneficial: use of 850nm and 980 nm are common.
So how does red light etc work?
Near infrared light therapy works exactly the same way that red light therapy works.
Visible red and invisible near infrared energy are absorbed by photoreceptors in each cell. Once absorbed, the light energy kicks off a whole series of metabolic events, stimulating the body’s natural processes on a cellular level.
There is an increase in blood flow, allowing the parts of the body to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need in order to function more effectively. Regeneration is stimulated; nflammation and pain are reduced.
As with red light therapy, the light source does not really matter. Effective near infrared light therapy can come from a low level laser, high power LED, and array of low power LEDs, incandescent, fluorescent or other light source, as long as the proper wavelengths are emitted.
Although red infrared light therapy is safe, one should follow the same precautions as for red light therapy before beginning treatment.
While red light and infrared light therapy is considered to be completely safe, there are a few precautions.
The most common risk associated with this therapy is shining it in your eyes. Not that red or infrared light itself is damaging to your eyes, but the devices can produce high glare.
Reputable products will come with eye protection, and this should be worn during any kind of facial treatment. If you are using the light for non-facial applications, such as wound care or pain relief, just be careful not to shine the light in your eyes. Never look directly into the red light therapy device. The same goes for your pets.
Special notes are usually avilable to cover this additional list of precautions and contra-indications:
immune suppressant drugs
certain nerves associated with heart disease
In relation to carpal tunnel syndrome, near infrared light has the potential to reduce inflammation within the carpal tunnel and relieve swelling and pressure from nerves and blood vessels. The result of this is that the symptoms and functions of hand and wrist can be improved. Infrared therapy penetrates soft tissues more deeply making it ideal for carpal tunnel pain relief.
Infrared therapy is used by many medical practitioners to complement other forms of therapy. Until recently, this type of treatment was not available for home use. However, there are several products now on the market that can be used in the home
List of recommended products to follow:
Genesis – Infrared Light Company
Thermotex Wrist Infrared Heating Pad and the Medlight 630 Pro Near Infrared Light Therapy Device provide high quality pain relief.