Back pain. That is something everyone has heard of or experienced, more than once. Although only 80% of the population will experience back pain, it affects all sections of the population, from adolescents to the elderly.
It was found that back pain can count for up to 264 million work days lost each year. Knowing this, it’s important to find a better way to manage back pain, because the current methods aren’t working.
You probably know of a few ways to treat back pain, from taking your generic pain killers to using a heating pad of some kind, electric or microwavable. But these processes have their flaws: it’s not recommended to take pain killers for more than 10 days consecutively and they can cause other health problems like stomach ulcers. Heating pads can work but they aren’t always effective and they can cause burns if not used properly. That is why it is important to find a new method for managing your back pain. Let’s look at one.
What is infrared? It’s probably something you have already experienced.
Imagine it’s 10am on a cold winter morning. Your hands and feet are cold & your joints are stiff and sore. You sit in a patch of sunlight on the couch and feel the warm sunlight heating up your body & making you feel all warm inside. That is infrared rays from the sun. They aren’t dangerous like the UV rays that cause skin cancer. They warm up your core from the inside out, without warming up the air around you.
The light you can see in your everyday life is from a wavelength of 380nm to 740nm, and the reason you can’t see infrared light is because it is at 700nm to 1000nm (or 1mm). That is what makes it different from other forms of light therapy.
Infrared therapy shouldn’t be confused with red light therapy. Infrared rays are invisible to the eye and your body naturally gives them off. Unlike infrared therapy, with red light therapy, you can feel the light on your skin, making it less safe, which makes infrared the better option.
How It Works:
A better question is: What causes pain? The main cause of pain is inflammation, whether the inflammation is from injury or from a build up of toxins the result is the same:
- If you’ve been immobile for a long time because of an injury, such as a slipped disc, and your tissue has atrophied, the pain is from inflammation.
- If the pain is simply from sitting behind a computer all day, the stiff muscle causes a build up of toxins and the discomfort is caused by inflammation.
- Other examples include: arthritis, joint pain, fibromyalgia, nerve pain, headaches and migraines, brain injuries, bone fractures, tendinitis and various degenerative diseases.
That’s why infrared therapy is the correct option. Infrared therapy works by warming up the muscles and the inside of your body, instead of the skin like traditional heating pads. By warming up the muscles, blood flow increases up to three times. When there is more blood flowing through the muscles, the body can do quicker and better repair of any damaged tissue.
The blood will also remove toxins and other chemicals caused by the inflammation. Even with chronic injuries causing years of pain, simply getting your body to work again will start decreasing your pain.
Often people will go to an infrared sauna to get the benefits listed here, to help reduce their pain and improve their general well being. But it can be costly and time consuming. With an infrared heating pad you can get the same benefits from the comfort of your own home.
Our Top Picks
There are several infrared heating pads available, each with their own benefits.
1. Venture Heat Far Infrared Heating Pad
This heating pad has three heat settings with a 10 hour automatic shut off for safety. It is also covered in a soft hypoallergenic fleece and comes in six different sizes to ensure you can target the right area.
Users were satisfied with this pad but some had problems with the power cord breaking. Luckily the power cord is covered in the complimentary 12 month warranty.
2. UTK Far Infrared Natural Jade Heating Pad
This pad comes in two different sizes, unlike the Venture Heat Pad, but it has jade stones to enhance the transfer of infrared rays. The UTK pad also has a precise temperature control system to help you manage exactly what temperature is the most comfortable.
It has a memory function for your favorite settings and automatically turns off after four hours instead of 10—like some others do—to prevent over heating. Consumers have found the UTK pad to be light enough to use on your stomach and a good replacement for the highly popular Therasage.
3. HL HEALTHYLINE - Far Infrared Heating Pad
Although this product only comes in one size, it uses jade and tourmaline stones to improve the transmission of the infrared waves. The HL HEALTHYLINE pad comes with four temperature settings and a 12 hour shut off timer.
With a lack of negative reviews from experts and consumers, this product comes highly recommended.
4. Far Infrared Amethyst Mat
This heating pad only comes in one size but it is aptly named a mat when looking at its size: it is double the size of any of the other mats coming in at 75” x 39” compared to the others ranging from 31” x 21” to 36” x 24”.
This mat has a 24 month warranty and thanks to the placement of the stones & the V-like shaping, it focusses the heat on your vertebral column.
5. MediCrystal FIR Bio Magnetic Belt
The smallest of the products reviewed here, coming in at 8” x 18”, the MediCrystal product has the same healing amethyst and tourmaline that the other mats have. It automatically turns off after 3.5 hours and comes with a one year warranty.
MediCrystal ensures your money back if you don’t get the healing benefits of the product. While there are some concerns about the high EMF, many users have enjoyed the benefits and enjoy the decrease in pain.
Something that is overwhelmingly clear when you look at the infrared heating pads is that they work to alleviate back pain. Although a few spark minor complaints, no one said that the infrared heating pads didn’t work. They all work; extremely well. Within hours to days most users get complete relief of their pain.
There is no doubt that if you’re suffering from back pain, or any other kind of muscular or joint pain, that by using an infrared heating pad, your pain will dissipate. There are even people who use it for their menstrual cramps, enjoying relief within minutes.
Types of Infrared:
There are two types of infrared, near and far. Although near infrared penetrates deeper than far infrared, the healing benefits are the same. Both increase blood flow to the target area and therefore reduce inflammation by removing toxins.
Several scientific studies have verified the results of infrared treatment on back pain. One study in particular conducted in 2006 found that there was a 57% improvement in back pain in comparison to the control group who only experienced a 19% improvement. This shows that more than 50% of the participants stopped suffering from back pain thanks to this unique approach to healing.
Sleeping with Infrared Pads:
When thinking about infrared heating pads it’s often difficult to find time to sit down for a treatment with the heating pad plugged into the wall. You can use it while relaxing in the evening but if you have chores to do or children to run after it might be hard to find a spare 45 minutes to reduce your pain.
That is why infrared heating pads are designed to use in bed while sleeping. Users often set the temperature to low and then go to sleep so they don’t get too hot during the night. The units will automatically turn off after a certain number of hours to ensure you don’t burn.
You will wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and pain free, ready to start your day without the usual agony of getting yourself moving and out of bed. Consumers comment on how they can sleep comfortably on the far infrared amethyst mat, benefiting from its healing effects.
Yes there is a price difference when comparing regular heating mats and the infrared heating pads. It is logical for you to wonder if the price difference is worth it. When spending $100 or more on a heating pad than you regularly would you might need a bit more convincing before buying it. But the price difference is necessary.
While regular heating pads use electricity and a coil to heat the surrounding area, the infrared uses precious stones to transfer the infrared rays. The regular electric heating pads can burn you and very rarely transfer the heat past your skin. The infrared pads transfer the heat directly into your muscles, joints and organs.
It’s obvious the infrared units are more efficient and for this reason the extra $100 or more is definitely worth it. It’s value for your money to get a product that works and is guaranteed to reduce your pain.
Elimination of Other Treatments:
When using infrared therapy you will have less pain and therefore you wont need to use the conventional pain killers & therapeutic drugs.
Why is this important?
The side effects of these drugs are short term and long term. In the short term they can make you feel uncomfortable and prevent you from performing your everyday activities. In the long term they can cause stomach ulcers and you can build up a resistance to them.
When using infrared therapy you wont be subjected to these side effects because you will be in less or no pain and not taking any drugs.
Infrared therapy is not only used to treat pain and chronic pain disorders. It has numerous other benefits:
- People have found that the pads help them sleep at night. This works by calming down your mind and stopping you from thinking too much. This results in not only you getting to sleep quicker but also sleeping for longer.
- Another benefit of infrared is its ability to help you recover quicker after a workout. Many professional athletes will take infrared saunas after particularly intense workouts to shorten their recovery time.
- Knowing that the infrared therapy increases blood flow, when applied to recently exercised tissue it will prevent stiffness and help the micro-tears in your muscle tissue recover faster.
- Finally, infrared therapy has been seen to have anti-aging effects due to the increased blood flow. There is better repair of damaged tissue under the skin resulting in a healthier and younger look.
When considering infrared therapy for yourself it is easy to become skeptical or overwhelmed at the vast bank of information available to you. So, let’s summarize the facts for you. Infrared therapy undeniably works to reduce chronic pain, specifically for muscle pain and arthritis. It has been found to reduce pain and improve your quality of life.
From the multiple scientific studies done on the ability of infrared to treat pain to the multiple personal testimonies to its fantastic abilities, it is hard not to want one for yourself, right? Whether you’re getting any of the products mentioned above, or one of the more expensive and branded products, it is important to remember the change in the quality of life that you will experience. It is worth saving up and investing in a product that will reduce your pain, improve your sleep, improve your recovery & enable you to live your life to the fullest.