Infrared Light Therapy

Infrared Light Therapy: Fast, Lasting Pain Relief

William began experiencing symptoms of diabetic neuropathy at age 61. Recently retired, he had been looking forward to having more time to do the things he enjoys, but the severe pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in his ankles and feet made walking difficult and golf impossible. When he lost the ability to sense pressure on the soles of his feet, his balance suffered and he was forced to use a cane.

William had a stent placed in the main artery in his left leg in order to improve his circulation and prevent him from losing the leg. But even with the improved blood flow, he was still in pain, which worsened at night and robbed him of sleep. He consulted several physicians in his hometown, but they had nothing to offer beyond powerful narcotics. When the side effects of the prescription drugs proved intolerable, William stopped taking them.

Shortly thereafter, William and his wife traveled to Southern California to visit family in the area. His niece, who works at Whitaker Wellness, was at one of the family get-togethers. When she realized the extent of her uncle’s suffering, she urged him to schedule an appointment at the clinic. William took her advice and began a course of infrared light therapy.

Used by Navy Seals and Army Rangers

Infrared light therapy delivers pulses of special wavelengths of light through the skin directly to injured tissues. Though the light itself is invisible, its effects are readily apparent: enhanced blood flow, improved sensation, tissue regeneration, and pain relief.

Infrared light therapy was originally developed by NASA to stimulate plant growth in outer space. It has been used by the US military to speed recovery from soft-tissue injuries in elite soldiers in the Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and Special Forces. Some hospitals and nursing homes use it to hasten the healing of pressure sores. And at several clinics, infrared light therapy is used to ease the pain of diabetic neuropathy, help restore sensation to patients with nerve impairment, speed up the healing of diabetic ulcers and other wounds, and relieve most any kind of chronic pain.

The Power of Nitric Oxide

Treatment with infrared light therapy is simple and painless. Flexible pads containing multiple small lights are affixed over the feet, ankles, or other affected areas. The photon energy that pulses from the lights penetrates beneath the skin and is absorbed by deep tissues. After just 30 minutes of treatment, blood flow is enhanced by 400 percent, and this boost in local circulation persists for several hours after the pads are removed. The key to this dramatic improvement in blood flow is a short-lived molecule called nitric oxide (NO).

Nitric oxide is a cellular signaling molecule that is crucial to the health of the cardiovascular system, and by extension, to every part of the body that depends on an adequate blood supply for normal functioning. Though NO exists for only seconds after being released, this powerful vasodilator relaxes the blood vessels, which helps regulate blood pressure and prevents arterial spasms. It also discourages platelets from clumping together in the blood, protects the artery walls, and boosts circulation.

Help for Diabetic Neuropathy and Other Complications

Unfortunately, people with diabetes produce less nitric oxide than healthy individuals. It’s not surprising then that they often suffer with problems related to poor circulation, including cardiovascular disease, kidney dysfunction, retinal damage, peripheral neuropathy, and impaired wound healing. This is where infrared light therapy comes in. As blood cells pass beneath the light unit, they absorb photons of energy, causing them to release nitric oxide. This localized release enhances blood flow in the immediate vicinity, bringing oxygen and nutrients to injured tissues and stimulating healing.

Infrared light therapy has been the subject of several clinical trials in patients with diabetic neuropathy and “loss of protective sensation,” an objective measure of nerve impairment and a significant risk factor for amputation. These studies found that treatment with infrared light therapy restored sensation in 93 percent of affected limbs, greatly reducing risk of amputation. Restored sensation has an added benefit: It improves balance. In one study, the number of falls reported by patients declined by 96 percent following infrared light therapy treatment.

Fast, Lasing Pain Relief = No More Cane

While numbers like these are impressive, no statistic can top the look on a patient’s face when he tosses aside his cane. Within two weeks of his first infrared light therapy treatment, William noticed less pain in his feet and ankles. A week later, he was able to get around the house and go up and down the stairs without relying on his cane. And at the end of his five-week stay in California, he was virtually pain-free.

William also underwent a standard test of sensation called the Semmes-Weinstein Monofilament. A slender filament (similar to a bristle on a hairbrush) was pressed against the skin at 16 different sites on the bottoms of his feet and toes until it bent. Before treatment, William had no sensation at 11 of these sites. When he was retested after his infrared light therapy treatment course, he was able to feel the sensation on all but two of the sites.

Some credit must also be given to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which William also received. For this patient, the combination of the two treatments was nothing short of a miracle.

Not Only for People With Diabetes

As I mentioned earlier, infrared light therapy isn’t just for diabetic neuropathy and other complications. It is an effective, tested treatment for any “itis”—arthritis, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and other conditions that cause inflammation and pain. Infrared light therapy has also proven effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, strains and sprains, and wounds of any nature.

Infrared light therapy is gaining popularity as its multiple benefits are becoming better known. This therapy, as William and countless others will attest, is the real deal.

Infrared Light Therapy at Whitaker Wellness

If you’d like to learn more about receiving infrared light therapy at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, call 866-944-8253 or fill out this form to receive a complimentary consultation with one of our friendly and knowledgeable Patient Services Representatives.

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