Hot and cold therapy has been proven effective treatments for back pain. Because of the combined efforts to break the pain-spasm cycles commonly associated with chronic back pain, many pain specialists recommend heat and cold therapy.
Hot and cold therapy treatments come in rub-on treatments as well as basic leave-on hot or cold therapy such as warm compresses and heating pads, ice packs and cold compresses. It is up to you to decide which type of therapy you want, but keep in mind that they do have their limitations. As effective as heat therapy is for pain relief, the relief you feel is just skin deep which means you aren’t getting the deep and penetrating relief you need at the muscle.
As with all technological advances, there have been improvements made for a more effective heat therapy. The most popular is far infrared heating pads, which are now available for personal purchase.
About Far Infrared Heat (FIR)
Before you know if FIR is for you, a deeper understanding of far infrared heat is required. The best way to understand it is to think of being outside when the sun is shining. The temperature hasn’t changed but it is significantly cooler in the shade than it is in direct sunlight. This is due to the infrared rays of the sun beating directly down on you in the sun.
Although far infrared heat is in no way the same ultra-violet rays that can damage your skin, the same effect takes place. FIR is a safe method of treating pain, so safe that many hospitals and pain treatment centers use it to treat pain and some hospitals even use FIR to warm incubators in the neo-natal unit.
How FIR Works
One of the reasons far infrared heat is more effective than traditional heat therapy is that it penetrates deep–3-inches deep–compared to the millimeters deep penetration of a heating pad or heat creams. It works, not just because of the deep penetration but also because the heat makes the body think it has a fever which increases the circulation of blood in the affected area. Better circulation means more oxygen-rich blood flowing to the muscles, joints and extremities.
While you may not want to feel as though you have a fever, it is important to remember this is an artificial fever that does not actually cause any symptoms of illness. The improved circulation means you heal faster thanks to the heat that stimulates the expansion of blood vessels without increasing blood pressure.
FIR therapy also has the added benefit of breaking down large water molecules that are filled with toxins. Because far infrared heat improves circulation and increased warmth, the body flushes out toxins on its own by sweating them out. The fewer toxins the body contains, the faster the recovery process becomes.
There are plenty of other well-known benefits associated with using far infrared heat treatments. Even if you don’t suffer from back pain–or other types of pain–you can use FIR for the following:
- Improved circulation to loosen muscles and reduce stiffness
- Reduces muscle cramps associated with menstrual cycle or muscle injuries
- Helps induce a more restful sleep for insomnia sufferers
- Clear up acne and other skin problems as well as ulcers
- Improves vision
- Relieves pain and tension associated with sciatica and back pain
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Fights cancer cells and generates healthy cells to ward off many types of cancer
- Increases oxygen supply to the brain
- Remove mucous, congestion and inflammation in the digestive tract
- Stimulate the body’s energy system
- Eliminates fluid buildup in extremities
With all these benefits it should come as no surprise that many physicians and pain specialists recommend far infrared heat for pain relief. But as more becomes known about FIR, it is also being used to improve overall health and prevent chronic illness.
Written By: Updated: September 22,2009