Arthritis and Infrared Saunas

Arthritis and Far Infrared Heat Therapy Saunas

At one point or another, most of us have experienced some type of joint pain. Imagine having that joint pain every day of your life and trying to cope with simple daily activities such as brushing your hair or opening a jar. This is referred to as arthritis, but more specifically osteoarthritis.

More than half of the population aged 65 or older would show x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint and is one of the most frequent causes of physical disability among adults. This can occur in any joint but mostly affects the fingers, thumbs, neck, lower back, hips and knees. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include steady or intermittent pain in a joint, stiffness in a joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long period of time, swelling or tenderness in one or more joints, and a crunching feeling or the sound of bone rubbing on bone. The muscles surrounding an arthritic joint also tend to be tighter and may spasm from time to time as they are trying to guard and protect the joint from further injury. One of the most effective treatment methods for osteoarthritis is heat, and this is exactly why Far Infrared Sauna Therapy (F.I.R.S.T.) is one of the best ways to help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The far infrared heat penetrates deep into the body and increases blood circulation thereby bringing oxygen rich blood to oxygen depleted muscles. Increased peripheral circulation provides the transport needed to help evacuate edema, which can help inflammation, decrease pain, and help speed healing. Given the fact that heat also increases collagen tissue elasticity, stretching after a sauna session can relax tight muscles and decrease their pull on the joints. Therefore, stiffened joints and thickened connective tissues respond positively to Far Infrared Sauna Therapy (F.I.R.S.T.). Heat has also been shown to reduce pain sensation by direct action on both free-nerve endings in tissues and on peripheral nerves.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Case Studies

A case study reported in Sweden involved a 70 year-old man who had rheumatoid arthritis secondary to acute rheumatic fever. He had reached his toxic limit of gold injections and his erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was still 125. After using a far infrared sauna for less than five months, his ESR was down to 11. A rheumatologist worked with a 14 year-old Swedish girl who had difficulty walking downstairs due to knee pain from the age of eight. This therapist told her mother the girl would be in a wheelchair within two years if she did not begin gold corticosteroid therapy. After three far infrared sauna treatments, she began to become more agile and subsequently took up folk dancing without the aid of conventional approaches. A clinical study in Japan reported a successful solution for seven out of seven cases of rheumatoid arthritis treated with whole body far infrared sauna therapy.

In a 2009 article in the medical journal Clinical Rheumatology, an infrared sauna was used to evaluate if it would provide a positive effect on those patients being studied who had either rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.

Ankylosing spondylitis is also a systemic disease, meaning it can affect other tissues throughout the body. Ankylosing spondylitis is considered one of the many rheumatic diseases because it can cause symptoms involving muscles and joints. The symptoms of pain and stiffness are often worse in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity. The pain and stiffness are often eased by motion and heat. About 1% of the world’s population is afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis, women three times more often than men. Onset is most frequent between the ages of 40 and 50, but people of any age can be affected. It can be a disabling and painful condition, which can lead to substantial loss of function and mobility if not adequately treated. Rheumatoid arthritis typically manifests with signs of inflammation, with the affected joints being swollen, warm, painful and stiff. This occurs most frequently early in the morning when waking or following prolonged inactivity. Increased stiffness early in the morning is often a prominent feature of the disease and typically lasts for more than an hour. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause inflammation of the tissue around the joints, as well as in other organs in the body. During flare ups, joints frequently become red, swollen, painful, and tender. Over a four week period with two sessions per week, the patients were evaluated to see if they experienced any change in pain and mobility issues. With over 35 participants in the study, no adverse reactions were noted and all had statistically significant improvements. Pain, fatigue and stiffness decreased clinically and all of the participants were comfortable during and after the treatment. The effects provided a positive improvement in mobility and pain in all treatment subjects with good tolerability and no adverse effects. The Infrared sauna was shown to provide pain relief and an increase in energy and quality of life.

If you’re using painkillers for arthritis, you’re not addressing the problem you just need more and more painkillers. By using far infrared therapies to help treat arthritic conditions we see an increased production of endorphins which are painkillers and decreased inflammation which causes the muscles to relax and helps restore normal joint function.

Infrared sauna therapy has shown to produce great results for patients suffering from Arthritis. This chronic debilitating disease comes in over 100 different forms and effects people from all walks of life. Arthritis sufferers typically find pain in joints due to inflammation and lack of fluidity. Far infrared sauna therapy helps Arthritis sufferers by promoting immense amounts of fresh blood flow into starved areas and brings with it much needed nutrients. Most patients who utilize far infrared sauna therapy will notice pain relief immediately or within a few sessions in the far infrared saunas. Arthritis effects people in all age groups, but over half of those suffering are under the age of 65. Most Arthritis sufferers find relief only through medication which ends up being increased over time as the body becomes more resistant to the drugs. Far infrared sauna therapy works in a very different way as the increased blood flow quickly flushes an area with the much needed oxygen rich blood resulting in pain relief from Arthritis. The effectiveness of far infrared sauna therapy has been shown time and time again to work for Arthritis sufferers and to allow them to decrease or even eliminate the need for medication. Far infrared sauna therapy is a safe, proven, natural method of promoting pain relief from Arthritis and many other muscular skeletal ailments. Instead of relying on increasing medication, the patient is able to naturally reduce pain caused by Arthritis without the harmful side effects seen with chronic exposure to pain medication. With all these benefits of far infrared heat therapy, I encourage everyone who suffers from osteoarthritis to try an Infrared Sauna out for themselves.


Submitted by Dr. Cory Hewko

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