Infrared Light Therapy and Neuropathy: you can ease the pain.
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Remember that time you went to camp and got bug bites all over your feet? Or that toothache that sent painful nerve signals up the side of your face? Unfortunately some people live with these types of sensations on a regular basis in different parts of their body. Neuropathy is a painful and debilitating condition where damage to the nerves causes symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness, and odd sensations. Some people say they feel like bugs are biting them, while others feel stabbing pain, a dull ache, or other sensations. Sometimes even a light touch can be painful when someone is suffering from this condition.
Neuropathy can be caused by health conditions (such as diabetes), side effects of medications, vitamin deficiencies, injuries, and other causes. Nerve pain can be very difficult to treat, as many standard pain medications do not work, and some medications for nerve pain can have their own difficult side effects. Neuropathy can interfere with sleep, work, concentration, energy, and many other parts of daily life. My own neuropathy was caused by side effects of the antibiotic Cipro. Unfortunately, just stopping the medication did not stop the nerve damage that had already occurred.
After trying several different medications and treatments, I still had neuropathy that moved around my body. I had been going to the salt room for allergy issues, and decided to try the infrared lights. I also began to look up research to see if this was a viable option for treating my nerve pain and was surprised to see some amazing studies.
One of the peer reviewed, published studies I found was actually done by Dr. David Arnall, a Professor of Physical Therapy at our own local ETSU. His study used infrared light on the feet of people with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN), and included what researchers call a “sham treatment”. This means that one foot was treated with real infrared light, while the other was treated with “fake” infrared. This allows researcher to make sure that the treatment really works, and not just because people expect it to work (called the placebo effect). Dr. Arnall and his team found that the feet that were treated with infrared light gained back appropriate sensation, even when the patients had neuropathy for a long time! (Arnall, et al, 2006).
Dr. Arnall has also been quoted as saying that he has used infrared light to cure his own neuropathy (Foster, 2008)! In addition, there have been multiple studies showing that neuropathy can be treated effectively with infrared light (Newton & Marshall, 2019; DeLellis, et al 2005). An article by Kochman (2004) even showed that infrared light therapy can reduce the risk of falling for older people with loss of sensation!
This supports my own experience with infrared light at the Salt Oasis Kingsport. I found that each session gave me relief at first for about 6-8 hours. As I continued to come frequently, this time grew longer, until I now have much less neuropathy and even stopped taking my nerve pain medication! If you have neuropathy, infrared light might be a great addition to your treatment.
- Dr. Miki
Arnall, DA, Nelson, AG, Lopez, L, Sanz, N, Iverson, L, Sanz, I, Stambaugh, L, Arnall, SB (2006). Effects of monochromatic infrared phototherapy in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.Acta Diabetol.May;43(1):26-33.
Newton, SC, Marshall, S, (2019) Effects of anodyne treatment on local blood flow and cutaneous sensation of the foot in a patient with peripheral neuropathy secondary to acromegaly.
Physiotherapy Theory Pract. 2019 Jul 11:1-8. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2019.1639233
Salvatore L. DeLellis, Dale H. Carnegie, and Thomas J. Burke (2005) Improved Sensitivity in Patients with Peripheral Neuropathy. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association: March 2005, Vol. 95, No. 2, pp. 143-147.
Kochman, Alan B.Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy; La Cross Vol. 27, Iss. 1, (2004): 16-19.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. Do not make any changes to your healthcare or treatment without consulting your physician.