Chronic pain relief
Infrared saunas also have a profound effect on relieving chronic pain. In a 2006 double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the Journal of Pain Research and Management, where researchers found infrared heat therapy, over a seven week period, to reduce chronic lower-back pain by 50 per cent, without any negative side effects.
Participants were asked to rate their overall pain without movement, as well as pain during various movement postures, such as bending forward, back, right, left and rotating the spine. The results showed all measures of pain were reduced approximately in half, with the greatest reduction experienced toward the end of the seven-week period. This points toward the fact that continuing treatment beyond seven weeks may lead to even greater pain reduction.
A 2002 study, published in the journal, Spine, by a researcher at the New Jersey Medical School (UMDNJ) found heat therapy to be more effective than pain medication for lower-back pain relief. In fact, pain relief was significantly greater in the group that underwent infrared heat treatment as compared to the group who were only given pain medication. According to the study, some members of the group that received infrared heat treatment experienced pain relief as early as the first day of treatment, and the effects lasted more than 48 hours after treatment.
Infrared heat has also been proven to help with several forms of arthritis. For example, in a 2008 study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, researchers found reductions in both pain and stiffness after only four weeks of treatment for several types of arthritis.
In addition, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported the results of a study, which showed infrared heat treatment reduced pain and increased the ability in elderly patients with degenerative osteoarthritis (DOA) of the knee. This double-blind study on DOA demonstrated pain reduction for the treatment group by more than 50 per cent, with no significant pain reduction in the placebo group. Although the study lasted only 10 days, individuals in the treatment group reported no need for pain medication as they were pain free for two months to one year.
Rehabilitation via infrared heat
Muscle recovery, for both athletes and laypeople, has also been a proven benefit of infrared heat. In 2008, the Journal of Human Ergology published a report, which revealed infrared heat treatment was capable of regenerating muscle cells.
Researchers found during repeated hand gripping exercises, arm-muscle agility remained in the ideal range for participants receiving infrared heat treatment, while the non-treatment group’s muscles were gradually fatigued.
The muscle recovery benefits of infrared heat have also been touted by Dr. Jeffrey Spencer, a former Olympic athlete who was named 2004 ‘Sports Chiropractor of the Year.’ He works with many high-performance athletes including, Lance Armstrong, Chad Reed, Troy Glaus, Tiger Woods and NASCAR driver Bobby LaBonte.
When asked about his personal daily health routine in a recent Dynamic Chiropractic article, Spencer said, “I make deliberate time to exercise daily, beginning with 45 minutes of qigong before the sun comes up, followed by at least an hour of cycling during the day. I also do full-body resistive training daily, take supplements specific to my needs, get regular adjustments, do Thai/Chinese massage, eat a calorie-restrictive organic diet, (and sweat in an) infrared sauna.”