A Light at the End of 37 Years of Chronic Pain

A Light at the End of 37 Years of Chronic Pain

Julian Whitaker, MD

Most of the therapies utilized in conventional medicine are either substances introduced into the body (oral, intravenous, or injected drugs) or procedures that invade or manipulate the body (surgeries, orthopedic procedures, physical therapy). Alternative modalities such as nutritional supplements, IV infusions of nutrients, chiropractic manipulations, and massage also fall into these two categories.

“Mysterious” Bioenergetic Medicine

Bioenergetic, or energy, medical therapies work on a completely different principle. They utilize energy fields—magnetic, electrical, infrared, sonic, acoustic, or the body’s own energy flow—to treat health problems. We Westerners have a hard time wrapping our arms around the concept of energy medicine. You can’t see it, you can’t necessarily feel it, and it can’t always be measured by scientific instruments. But some of these therapies have been proven by clinical studies to really work.

The granddaddy of energy medicine is acupuncture, which has been used for millennia to treat a wide variety of conditions. Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles at specific points on the body to balance qi, the life force that flows along energy pathways called meridians. Another example of energy medicine is magnets. When placed over arthritic joints or injured areas, they stimulate healing and relieve pain.

One bioenergetic therapy we use with great success at Whitaker Wellness is infrared light therapy, which harnesses the energy of light to relieve pain and facilitate healing.

Harnessing the Healing Power of Light

Infrared light therapy delivers pulses of infrared wavelengths of light to damaged tissues via flexible pads placed directly over the targeted area. As this particular wavelength of light penetrates deep into the tissues, blood vessels absorb the light’s energy, which stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO).

NO is a very powerful messenger molecule that plays a key role in cardiovascular health. Produced in the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels, nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator, signaling the vessels to relax and dilate, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. It also discourages platelets in the blood from clumping together, which further enhances circulation. In addition, NO protects the blood vessels themselves and encourages their growth and remodeling.

This causes oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to flow to injured tissues, which fast-tracks the healing response and relieves pain. Studies show that infrared light boosts blood flow by 400 percent after just 30 minutes of treatment. With repeat treatments, normal circulation returns, allowing tissues to heal and pain to resolve.

A Proven Therapy

The efficacy of infrared light therapy is not mere speculation: It has been proven in numerous clinical trials. One of them, a 2004 study published in Diabetes Care, involved patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a common consequence of diabetes that is considered to be “progressive and irreversible.” Characterized by pain, numbness, and diminished sensation, usually in the feet and legs, neuropathy is a significant risk factor for diabetic ulcers and amputation, as well as falls, since balance is often impaired.

In this study, patients received three 40-minute treatments a week for two weeks of either a sham (placebo) treatment or infrared light therapy, followed by another two weeks in which all participants received six Infrared light therapy treatments. Benefits were profound. Pain as reported on a 10-point scale fell from 4.2 to 3.2 after six treatments and to 2.3 after 12 treatments. Sensation returned, and balance dramatically improved. Prior to Infrared light therapy therapy, 90 percent of the study volunteers had substantial balance problems; after treatment only 17 percent did.

Infrared light therapy also facilitates the healing of wounds, which cannot heal without adequate blood flow to the injury site. In a study conducted at a VA hospital, patients with non-healing ulcers of long duration (six to 40 years) that had not responded to any other therapy were treated with either infrared light therapy or a placebo device. Within three weeks, the patients using Infrared light therapy had extraordinary acceleration of healing. Results were so profound that the researchers started treating all the study subjects with Infrared light therapy one to three times a week, and guess what? Stubborn, “untreatable” wounds completely healed!

Millions Have Benefited

Since its introduction, millions of patients have benefited from infrared light therapy for the above conditions and many others. It also relieves pain caused by tendonitis and musculoskeletal injuries, TMJ and trigeminal neuralgia, and virtually any other source. In addition, it improves circulation in diabetes- or neuropathy-ravished limbs and speeds healing of injuries, surgical sites, and other wounds.

Treatment couldn’t be simpler. You simply relax in a recliner for 45 minutes with flexible pads, each containing 60 small infrared lights, strapped over the affected area. You will feel a sensation of warmth, but it is not painful or uncomfortable.

We see remarkable results from infrared light therapy at Whitaker Wellness. I want to tell you about one of our patients who reaped significant benefits.

Tom’s Story

Tom Ryan is a 57-year-old Vietnam vet who came to the clinic out of desperation. For more than 37 years he had been living in chronic pain. He had pain in his right shoulder, which had been injured in Vietnam and operated on repeatedly, and in his right arm, which hung at his side. He had pain in his right hand, which was so puffy, blue, and tremulous that he had to shake with his left hand. He had pain in his knees, and his right leg dragged when he walked. In fact, his entire body was wracked with pain. He couldn’t work or do much of anything, and he had pretty much lost hope of getting better.

His first two days at the clinic didn’t go so well. He had a terrible migraine (migraines were another problem and he was taking several medications for them), and he couldn’t sleep. “I was so sick I was ready to quit, give up, forget it, and go home.”

Then things began to turn around. The pain began to abate and the tremor in his right hand went away. After the fourth day, he had no more pain in his right arm, and the puffiness in his right hand was gone. “For the first time in over 37 years I was able to shake hands using my right hand. This might seem like a small thing, but to me it was just a tremendous accomplishment.”

“Infrared Light Therapy Is What Did it For Me”

What was responsible for Tom’s remarkable recovery? I would have to say that it was a combination of things, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, targeted nutritional supplementation, and a large dose of hope, which he desperately needed.

Tom, however, attributes most of his improvement to one therapy: “Infrared light therapy is what did it for me. I’m totally pain free. It’s so amazing to feel energized again. It’s great to be able to get up in the morning feeling rested and refreshed. It’s really a miracle. It’s like being reborn—especially after all of those years. I’m smiling. I’m able to joke with other people again. I haven’t done that in all those years. I know it’s a relief to my wife. I don’t see myself as a burden anymore, as I saw myself for a long, long time. I kind of had a hopeless feeling during those 37 years.

“Had I known about Whitaker Wellness years ago, I could have done something about this and not lived the majority of my life in pain and disappointment to myself and my ability to work and make a living. It’s almost like I’ve been given a second chance at life.”


  • To schedule an appointment at Whitaker Wellness and to learn more about our comprehensive programs for chronic pain, contact a Patient Services Representative at (866) 944-8253 or click here.


  • Leonard DR et al. Restoration of sensation, reduced pain, and improved balance in subjects with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes Care, 2004 Jan;27(1):168-72.
  • Burke T. Nitric oxide and its role in health and diabetes, part 11: wound care with nitric oxide therapy. www.diabetesincontrol.com/annodyne/burkeseries.php.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Copyright 2005. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here.

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