This article is intended to raise awareness of the clinical benefits of heat therapy and to improve understanding of the growing evidence supporting the non-thermal effects and benefits of FAR infrared (FIR) therapy.
Use of heat as part of physical therapy treatment is not common because heating product applications have tended to be cumbersome, time-consuming to apply and carry the risk of causing burns. Whether boiling gel packs straight from a hydrocollator or a wheat bag from the microwave, the impracticality of heat has meant that in practical terms, it is rarely used.
Thermal therapy is largely ignored by western mainstream manual therapy professions and there is very little awareness of the clinical application and effects of FAR infrared for pain relief and as an aid to healing.
Heat, notably moist heat, is used primarily to provide comfort and ease chronic pain and stiffness. Evidence shows that heat can increase the extensibility of soft tissues and thus aid mobility.
FAR infrared is a resonant energy and was traditionally applied for a variety of conditions using an infrared lamp. The lamps went out of vogue because of the awkward application, the risk of skin drying from the visible light component of some of the bulbs and the potential risk of eye damage.
A new generation of carbon fabric infrared elements is rapidly emerging which deliver heat quickly and conveniently from a safe FAR infrared heat source which can be moulded to the joint or easily applied to the painful area.
The new carbon fabric infrared elements are used predominantly in the markets where they are made, namely Asia. Scientific research to understand the mechanisms which drive observed clinical outcomes of FAR infrared therapy, for a variety of conditions, is thus centred in China and Taiwan.
The evidence-base for heat therapy and FIR therapy is diverse and compelling. There is significant growth in scientific interest in the non-thermal effects of FIR therapy itself, whilst the convenience of the carbon fabric heat element enables clinicians interested in the benefits of thermal therapy, to have a tool which they can practicably use to help patients.
I have collated studies and papers and experiments to highlight the diversity of questions and depth of analysis about the thermal and non-thermal effects of FIR energy and the benefits of using heat to relieve pain. Click here to see INFRARED EVIDENCE.
Here is an example of one of the references:
FAR Infrared treatment leads to a 57% decrease in pain for patients with 6 year chronic low back pain.
Forty patients with chronic low back pain of over six years’ duration. Mean NRS scores in the FIR treatment group fell from 6.9 of 10 to 3 of 10 at the end of the study. The mean NRS in the placebo group fell from 7.4 of 10 to 6 of 10. The FIR therapy unit used was demonstrated to be effective in reducing chronic low back pain and no adverse effects were observed.
Gale GD, Rothbart PJ, Li Y. Infrared therapy for chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Pain Research and Management 2006,11(3):193-196
It is my intent that you will be able to connect insights from the different studies and articles to raise your own questions to develop new hypotheses regarding the use and application of FAR Infrared Therapy to manage pain and assist injury rehabilitation.
FAR infrared provides a safe, non-invasive, cost-effective therapeutic modality which is easy to administer.
I have witnessed and heard countless anecdotal public and clinical examples of how patients with a variety of chronic conditions have experienced pain relief over-and above what they have been able to receive from standard moist heat, cold therapy, electrotherapy or indeed pharmacological treatments.
That is not evidenced-based, however such a wealth of comments and observations begs many profound questions to clearly understand and explain the reported outcomes.
I have no doubt that the new FAR infrared technology will have wide reaching accepted applications in a variety of fields as awareness and scientific research into the benefits of FAR infrared expands.
One might go so far as to imagine the time when GPs will prescribe FAR infrared as a therapeutic modality in the place of medication, for certain conditions.
If you are interested in using Infrared in your clinic or would like more details, please use the form below to request an information pack.