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The Development and Advancement of Infrared Light Products for Treating Peripheral Neuropathy in a Physical Therapy Clinic Introduction

July 25, 20235 min read

The Development of Infrared Light for Treating

Peripheral Neuropathy in a Physical Therapy Clinic

Introduction

In recent years, there has been significant research and development in the field of infrared light therapy for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy refers to a condition characterized by damage to the peripheral nerves, resulting in symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the extremities. These symptoms can greatly impact a person's quality of life and limit their ability to perform daily activities. Therefore, finding effective treatment options is of utmost importance.

The Use of Infrared Light Therapy

One approach that has shown promise in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy is the use of infrared light therapy devices. Infrared light, which falls within the non-visible spectrum of light, has unique properties that make it suitable for therapeutic purposes. It can penetrate deep into the tissues, promoting cellular regeneration and reducing inflammation .

Approved Devices for Professional Use

Currently, no red light or infrared light devices have been approved by regulatory authorities for the treatment or management of peripheral neuropathy or any other disease or disease processes However, they have been approved for the general use for improving circulation and decreasing pain. So while not officially approved for neuropathy care they are approved for the conditions that neuropathy sufferers have. 

Research studies have shown promising results with the use of pulsed infrared light therapy (PILT) in increasing peripheral sensation in diabetic patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN)

Effectiveness of Near Infrared Light Therapy

Another form of infrared light therapy that has been investigated is near infrared light therapy. A clinical trial aims to determine the effectiveness of near infrared light therapy in reducing pain in patients with painful peripheral neuropathy.  Preliminary findings suggest that near infrared light therapy may alleviate pain associated with peripheral neuropathy. However, further research is needed to establish its effectiveness conclusively.

History of InfraRed Light Therapy

The use of infrared light for therapeutic purposes has a long history, with its roots dating back to ancient civilizations. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians were known to use sunlight as a form of therapy for various ailments. However, it was not until the late 19th century that infrared light therapy started to gain recognition as a legitimate medical treatment.

In 1893, the Danish physician Niels Ryberg Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering work on light therapy, which included the use of infrared light. Finsen's research focused on the treatment of skin tuberculosis using concentrated light radiation.

In 1986, Dr. Robert F. Furchgott, Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, and Dr. Ferid Murad were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their crucial contributions to unraveling the role of NO in the cardiovascular system. Dr. Furchgott discovered NO's ability to relax blood vessels, leading to the concept of endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF), later identified as NO. Dr. Ignarro demonstrated the key role of NO as a vasodilator and its benefits for cardiovascular health. 

Over the decades, advancements in technology and scientific understanding have led to the development of more specialized and targeted infrared light therapy devices. Today, these devices use specific wavelengths within the infrared spectrum to penetrate deep into the tissues and provide therapeutic benefits.

Benefits of InfraRed Light Therapy for Peripheral Neuropathy

Infrared light therapy offers several benefits for individuals suffering from peripheral neuropathy. One of the key advantages is its ability to promote cellular regeneration. When infrared light penetrates the tissues, it stimulates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is essential for cellular energy. This increased ATP production helps damaged cells to repair and regenerate, ultimately leading to improved nerve function and reduced symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

Infra-red light stimulation for local nitric oxide (NO) production has emerged as a promising therapeutic approach. When specific tissues or cells are exposed to infra-red light, it triggers a photobiomodulation process that promotes the production of NO in a localized manner. NO, being a potent vasodilator and signaling molecule, plays a crucial role in improving blood flow, reducing inflammation, and promoting tissue repair.

Furthermore, infrared light therapy has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a common symptom of peripheral neuropathy and can exacerbate the associated pain and discomfort. By reducing inflammation, infrared light therapy can provide relief and improve the overall well-being of individuals with peripheral neuropathy.

Research studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of infrared light therapy in alleviating symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. For example, a study conducted on diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy showed that pulsed infrared light therapy increased peripheral sensation and improved nerve function . These findings suggest that infrared light therapy has the potential to improve the quality of life for individuals with peripheral neuropathy.

Application of Infrared Light Therapy in Physical Therapy Clinics

Infrared light therapy is increasingly being incorporated into physical therapy clinics as a non-invasive and drug-free treatment option for peripheral neuropathy. Physical therapists utilize infrared light therapy devices to deliver targeted light therapy to the affected areas. The therapy sessions involve exposing the affected areas to infrared light for a specified duration.

During the treatment, the infrared light penetrates the tissues and stimulates cellular regeneration, reduces inflammation, and promotes healing. Physical therapists may also combine infrared light therapy with other treatment modalities, such as exercise therapy and manual therapy, to optimize the outcomes for individuals with peripheral neuropathy.

It is important to note that while infrared light therapy shows promise in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy, it is essential for individuals to consult with their healthcare providers before starting any new treatment regimen. Healthcare professionals can assess the appropriateness of infrared light therapy for each individual and provide personalized recommendations.

Conclusion

Infrared light therapy has emerged as a promising treatment modality for peripheral neuropathy. Its unique properties, including deep tissue penetration and cellular regeneration, make it an effective option for reducing pain and improving nerve function. While regulatory approval for infrared light therapy devices specific to peripheral neuropathy is still pending, research studies and clinical trials have shown promising results. Incorporating infrared light therapy into physical therapy clinics can provide individuals with peripheral neuropathy a non-invasive and drug-free treatment option to enhance their quality of life and regain their functional abilities.



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