Infrared Heat and Arthritis: The Effectiveness and Side Effects

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Heat and Arthritis

For an arthritis patient, heat is a boon. Heat relaxes the muscles, helps improve blood circulation, and provides relief from joint pain and stiffness. Methods of applying heat to the affected areas vary greatly. Apart from hot water bottles, warm baths and heated wash cloths, a method popularly used is the heat wrap. As the name suggests, heat wraps apply focused heat to an affected joint to relieve pain.

While the above methods focus on getting heat to penetrate into the affected areas, they are not considered to be as effective as the infrared heat method, also known as the far infrared therapy.

Many medical and health centers use infrared heat therapy because of its many benefits. Doctors recommend infrared therapy products in the form of blankets, pads, lamps, and clothing to their patients to be used at home for continued relief of arthritic pain.

Let’s now take a look at how infrared heat and arthritis go together.

Infrared and Arthritis

Infrared heat therapy involves the use of a low energy light invisible to the human eye to penetrate the skin to a depth of about two to four inches. The main purpose of the light penetration is to dilate the surrounding blood vessels. The effect of this is blood circulation and oxygen delivery to the blood cells and soft tissues are improved. The benefits for the patient are arthritis pain is relieved and mobility is increased. In short, the light acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Dr. John DeFinney of the Active Health Centre in Markham has reported on the effectiveness of using infrared therapy on arthritis patients. A patient who was about to undergo surgery for arthritis was recommended infrared heat therapy and the result was great pain relief which in turn rendered surgery unnecessary, for the moment.

The other thing infrared heat does is raise the body’s metabolism and increase the heart beat rate. This is equivalent to a good workout, which arthritis patients are unable to undertake because of limited mobility.

Side Effects

There are no known side effects of using infrared heat treatment for arthritis and other cases.

The Sioux City Journal quotes Dr. Cliff Meylor, an established chiropractor, as saying that infrared therapy does not interfere with the normal functioning of nerves in the body. He adds that infrared rays actually boost the self-healing properties of the body, which helps provide speedy relief from pain.

Still, before you go out and buy an infrared therapy product, you should consult a qualified health practitioner first and not be swayed by promotional literature issued by companies marketing these products.

References - heat and arthritis - Dr. John DeFinney’s report on infrared heat therapy - information on infrared heat therapy - Dr. Meylor on the effectiveness of infrared heat therapy