There are two forms of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the bursa, the fluid filled sack between the bones of the joint, break down and the bones are rubbing against each other. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system goes awry and begins attacking the joints themselves as foreign invaders.
Although both condition is reversible and both are painful, there is a pain relief option patients can perform at home. Infrared light therapy has been use by doctors, hospitals, clinics and patient self therapy at home for decades.
What is Infrared Light?
Put simply, infrared is a band of light that is felt as heat. When the sun is hidden behind a cloud, the air temperature is still warm but you feel cooler. This is because the infrared light rays have temporarily been lowered.
How Does it Help With Arthritis?
The infrared light penetrates deep into tissues and blood vessels, gently heating the joint. The blood vessels dilate, or expand to allow more blood to flow to the joint without increasing the patient’s heart rate or raising the blood pressure.
It also increases the oxygen levels and stimulates the white blood cells. The light also stimulates collagen production, a substance necessary to repair damaged joints.
What Devices are Available?
Infrared lights are available as small hand-held devices selling for around $80 and up, and larger units costing more are available. There are also infrared booths that provide light therapy to the entire body at once instead of a single joint at a time. These units are called infrared saunas and are available for purchase.
A home infrared sauna’s are available with different additional features such as a sound system and CD player and reading light. The temperature inside these units only reaches 150 degrees so no surrounding electronics are affected.
Anyone considering purchasing one of these saunas should check with their doctor first. There may be other health issues that would prevent someone from spending even a little time in high temperatures. In that case, the hand-held device or a larger free- standing device should be considered.
As of the time of this article, health insurance companies are not covering these devices. However, it would not hurt to have a letter from the patient’s doctor stating the device was necessary and calmly go through the insurance company’s process to see if the purchase or part of it could be covered.