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How Can Chiropractors Use Infrared in their Practice?

June 16, 2017 by Kara Willingham

Chiropractors are experts on reducing pain. They are tremendously knowledgeable about neuromuscular disorders and often provide treatment via manual adjustments or by manipulating the spine to provide relief. When the spine is compromised due to an injury, repetitive movement or another issue the nervous system can be affected. A visit to the chiropractic office can be routine; many visit their chiropractor regularly for lower back pain, leg pain, neck pain, strains, headaches, sports injuries, car accident injuries and pain from arthritis. Visits can also be more spread out or scheduled to treat a specific complaint.

Infrared heat is an effective pain relief solution, and for this reason, the number of chiropractors incorporating infrared options into their practice is rapidly increasing. The benefits infrared offers go hand-in-hand with a chiropractor's offerings. How do we know? FIT Bodywrap's Clinical Director, Dr. Aaron Flickstein has utilized infrared in practice and shared with us how infrared complements chiropractic services.

Infrareds Effect on the Elasticity of Joint and Muscle Tissue

Musculoskeletal improvements can be made during a visit to the chiropractor, and infrared heat can have supportive effects. Many chiropractors recommend a thirty or sixty-minute infrared session before an adjustment. When the body is heated with infrared a couple of things happen, first, the infrared heat penetrates the body about 1.5 inches. Next, the body begins to warm up. According to Dr. Flickstein, when body tissues are heated to 45 ºC or 113 ºF and then stretched they can start to exhibit a non-elastic residual elongation that persists after the stretch. Research indicates that this does not happen in these same tissues when they are not heated. Repeated sessions can produce a 10 -18% increase in the length of tissues that were heated and stretched. Therefore, exposure to infrared can assist with flexibility and muscle lengthening. Some chiropractic patients struggle with inflexibility as well, infrared exposure can work on stiff and sore muscles to improve flexibility, making physical manipulation or adjustments a bit more comfortable.  Exposing the body to infrared heat can be especially valuable for those experiencing pain in the with ligaments, joint capsules, tendons, and muscle.

Pain Relief with Infrared Technology

Infrared sessions warm the body completely and the temperature elevation can increase blood flow. This amplified blood flow and soothing infrared heat immediately begin to act directly on the painful areas, increasing circulation, blood flow and oxygen levels in our tissue. This process can have a direct impact on the pain we feel as new blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the area of the body experiencing pain to promote healing. “Infrared waves penetrate the body to create heat that results in immediate therapeutic benefits through increased blood flow and tissue oxygenation that provides more energy to heal,” remarked Flickstein. “A 2008 study by Matsushita found that chronic pain patients experienced nearly a 70% reduction in pain levels after the first session of infrared therapy. Pain experience also decreased significantly and remained low throughout the observation period.”

Deep Relaxation Before and After Adjustments

Stress can amplify feelings of pain in the body and can be especially hard to deal with for those who experienced an accident causing them bodily harm. Infrared heat can induce deep relaxation which is beneficial before or after hands-on time with the doc. "Scientific evidence shows that immersive infrared therapy as from the FIT Bodywrap helps maintain healthy levels of cortisol,” says Flickstein. “Cortisol is the stress hormone, which rises with the flight or fight reaction to stress. Cortisol levels stay the same or rise slightly during an infrared session such as in a FIT Bodywrap, however, once the session is completed, the cortisol levels drop immediately to a lower stress level.”

Chiropractors often administer infrared sessions before and after hands on time.

When do Chiropractors Use Infrared?

As we mentioned above, infrared exposure before or after hands on time with a chiropractor can be beneficial. Those that are experiencing extreme pain may prefer to experience infrared before an adjustment to make the body easier to work. Others may prefer to experience infrared after hands-on time to relax and relieve lingering discomfort. Though the length of exposure may vary infrared is an excellent add-on. Your chiropractor may also set you up to enjoy an infrared session while they assist another patient. This gives the doctor more flexibility in their schedule and provides the patient with more appointment options.

A chiropractor’s aim is to help you get rid of or manage pain to live a full and healthy life. Infrared aids doctors in their practice to provide patients with additional ways to improve their wellness and overall quality of life. For most applications, it is recommended that patients use infrared therapy two to three times per week for a period of one month or more. Including infrared in a treatment plan is a warm and cozy way to improve joint and muscle elasticity, relieve pain and reduce stress. All of which can lead to a happier, healthier patient.

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