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How does infrared light therapy relieve pain?

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Quick Answer

Low-level infrared therapy uses a low-laser light device in combination with heat to treat many conditions, including peripheral neuropathy in those suffering from diabetes, according to Aetna. The therapy is promoted as being able to improve circulation and reduce pain by releasing nitric oxide.

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Full Answer

As of 2015, infrared therapy is experimental, with insufficient evidence to support its effectiveness, according to Aetna. Researchers are investigating the benefits of infrared therapy for injuries of the central nervous system, osteoarthritis, stroke, Parkinson's disease and lymphedema.

Infrared therapy has shown to be helpful for relieving musculoskeletal pain, including chronic back pain and arthritis, states the National Center for Biotechnology Information. It has also shown to be effective for healing wounds and increasing endorphin levels.

A study that used a lower back wrap device showed that infrared therapy was effective in treating lower back pain with no adverse side effects, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Patients with lower back pain were separated into two groups. The first group received infrared therapy, and the second group received a placebo. The study took place over seven weeks, at the end of which the pain rating within the first group had reduced by approximately 50 percent. In the group treated with the placebo, pain reduced by only a small percentage.

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