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Far Infrared Light Therapy

Find out how far infrared light therapy treatment, also known as FIR, can relieve pain from arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, lymph edema, pain in the neck, back or muscles, and more.

FIR is a noninvasive, alternative pain relief treatment from alternative medicine that involves a pad similar to a common heating pad. Naturopathic doctor Mark Stengler, ND, has been using FIR to reduce pain and stiffness associated with a variety of conditions, including arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, lymph edema, and pain in the neck, back or muscles.

Although light and heat therapies have been used for centuries, the far infrared wave length is the most compatible with human tissue because it vibrates at the same frequency as human cells, so it is easily absorbed, penetrating as far as 2.3 inches below the skin, bringing heat to muscles, blood vessels, lymphatic glands and nerves.

Before reading any further,
see our medical disclaimer.

Far infrared benefits

  • FIR treatments help to clear out toxins associated with inflammation.

  • FIR is useful as an alternative pain relief treatment for range of motion conditions, improving the ability of collagen to stretch, for the treatments of ligaments, tendons and other soft tissue.

  • The unique deep heat of the treatments increases circulation. This additional blood flow supports the lymphatic system in excreting waste products and in reducing edema. The increased circulation also helps regenerate tissue, such as the tendons involved in tennis elbow.

Chiropractors use FIR to relax the back. Physical therapists use it to prepare patients for treatment, to relieve pain and stiffness, to relieve the discomfort of plantar faciitis, and for other conditions. Professional sports trainers use FIR as an alternative pain relief treatment for strains, sprains and other muscle problems and to relieve lactic acid buildup.

Far infrared light therapy pads have been approved by the FDA for safety. FIR therapy is nontoxic and gentle. The pads only reach 104 to 113 degrees Farenheit, versus an average of 131 degrees in ordinary heating pads. There are no known side effects, except for those with certain diseases and conditions where the use of heat may be ill-advised, including (but not exclusive to) Addison's disease, hemophilia and other bleeding disorders.

You absolutely must check with your doctor about your medical history before using FIR even once. And don't put FIR on a fresh joint or muscle injury for the first 48 hours. Your doctor will tell you it's cold first, to reduce inflammation, then heat, after 48 hours.

Case histories

Although no large studies have been done on far infrared light therapy, a small, seven-day Canadian study used it on 42 patients with either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis, along with low back pain. The results showed noticeable relief in 65% of patients. After two additional weeks of treatment, 87% of patients reported significant pain relief. 

Dr. Stengler describes the results in a 68-year-old patient with chronic low-back pain from arthritis and several degenerated discs. The woman spent 35 minutes a day for five days lying on a FIR pad in Dr. Stengler's office. She improved so much that she bought her own pad, and her pain has pretty much disappeared.

Another patient, 51 years old, bought a FIR pad to treat her fibromyalgia every evening at home. The woman hadn't been able to sleep because of severe pain all over her body, but after just one treatment, she could sleep through the night.

You can check with your medical practitioners about the availability of FIR in their offices, or you can buy a FIR pad for home use (after checking with your doctor!!). Pads range from under $100 to over $200. The pads are made by Thermotex, (800) 975-0253, or see the Web site of their  national distributor, Active Forever, at www.activeforever.com.

Bottom Line Natural Healing, by Dr. Mark Stengler, October 2008.


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