Can Infrared Sauna Relief Your Lower Back Pain and Joint Pain ?

by Dr. Kotb

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Have you ever noticed that muscle, joint, and back pains are always accompanied by a warming sensation? This sensation isn’t just in your head. In pain locations, the body naturally uses warmth as a tool to dilate capillaries and blood vessels so healing nutrients can more easily pass through to the source of the pain or injury. Of course, the body uses a lot of energy to create heat. Infrared saunas use this same natural warming process on joints and back muscles, but they take it to the next level of healing and relief.

While infrared saunas have been well-documented for their ability in speeding of the healing process in soft tissue injuries, as well as bringing about one of the greatest sensations of relaxation that you can achieve, infrared saunas have also demonstrated clinical-level relief for those suffering with joint and back pain. Using an infrared sauna for joint and back pain will be one of the best decisions you will ever make in treating the pain. Plus, you will treat the pain at the source — not mask it, as is the case with prescription medications.

Using a Sauna for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis affects millions of people around the world, as it is the most common form of arthritis that happens when the cartilage that protects the ends of your bones breaks down and wears away over time. Osteoarthritis usually affects your hips, knees, hands and spine and can cause chronic pain over time. One way to find relief from the chronic pain of osteoarthritis is through regular sauna sits. Infrared heat warms your body up at a lower temperature, making them a more friendly option for people who suffer from osteoarthritis who are looking for pain relief, but without such high temperatures.

Infrared rays penetrate your body more deeply, which cause your body to start sweating at a lower temperature than a traditional sauna. Researchers have found that infrared saunas produce a lighter demand on the cardiovascular system, so they in turn might be beneficial to people who lead a more sedentary life due to medical issues. According to an article published by Livestrong, infrared heat also releases nitric oxide, which improves circulation and increases the amount of nutrients and oxygen that flows to an injured area, which ultimately aids in the healing process. Furthermore, a temporary increase in cortisol and adrenaline caused by the heat of an infrared sauna are natural painkillers released in the body.

There are theories that increased blood circulation caused by sitting in heat may help to remove and clear away mineral depots from joints affected by osteoarthritis, however this theory has yet to be studied thoroughly. When you start with the sauna, it is recommended that you do not spend any longer than 10 minutes your first time in. Experts recommend slowly increasing the time you spend in a sauna and never mix alcohol intake in with your sauna use, instead be sure to drink two to four glasses of water following your sauna sit.

What Causes Back Pain?

Most cases of back pain are the result of improper lifting. This is known as “acute” back pain, meaning it comes on suddenly. If you’ve ever spent some time in a gym, then you’ve likely heard someone jokingly say, “Always lift with your back to save your legs.” Of course, this is the exact opposite of how you should lift heavy objects. Whether you’re in the gym or at home, always be sure to lift with your legs and try to keep your back as straight as possible. Back and lower back pain are usually caused by a strain in a muscle or spinal ligament. In most cases of acute back pain, the symptoms can last anywhere from a month to six weeks.

Using an Infrared Sauna for Back Pain Relief

Individuals with acute and chronic back pain can relieve much of the pain associated with these types of conditions. The radiant heat from the infrared sauna reaches down several inches below the surface of the skin to soothe the muscles. This works in several different ways; infrared heat helps open the blood vessels, feeding nutrients to the muscles and ligaments. The warming action also makes muscles and ligaments more pliable and less stiff.

A University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey study led by a doctor specializing in sports medicine found that low-level heat therapies were more effective than over-the-counter oral medications1, such as acetaminophen, Tylenol®, and others. After your time in the infrared sauna, do some light stretches to work the muscles and ligaments in the affected areas. Researchers have found that stretching after an infrared sauna session actual increases flexibility for long-term results — something your back muscles and ligaments greatly need.

Using an Infrared Sauna for Joint Pain Relief

Those who read the section on treating back pain relief with an infrared sauna will notice some similarities in this section since the mechanisms of relief and recovery are largely the same. In the Journal of the International League of Associations for Rheumatology it was noted that with infrared sauna use “pain and stiffness decreased clinically, and improvements were statistically significant[…] Fatigue also decreased.” What “statistically significant” means in this reference is that, under clinical observation and with scientific testing methods in place, infrared saunas were shown to provide real improvement in those with rheumatoid arthritis, a condition which can be described as an advanced stage of joint inflammation and pain.

Infrared heat penetrates deep into the muscles and tissues surrounding the joint, dilating the peripheral blood vessels, allowing oxygenated blood and the nutrients it carries to reach the affected areas. This action also has a relaxing effect on muscles, which promotes an enhanced range of motion and lessened stiffness within the joints. Infrared heat penetrates deep into the muscles and tissues surrounding the joint, dilating the peripheral blood vessels, allowing oxygenated blood and the nutrients it carries to reach the affected areas. This action also has a relaxing effect on muscles, which promotes an enhanced range of motion and lessened stiffness within the joints.

Reviewed by Dr. kotb and his team

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