While most of us will suffer from some form of joint pain or stiffness at some point in our lives, sufferers of arthritis, unfortunately, experience this pain on a daily and unrelenting basis.
If you’re suffering from severe and consistent pain associated with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a growing body of medical evidence that links the infrared saunas as a genuine source of pain treatment.
In this piece, we’ll unpack the medical evidence to suggest infrared saunas are an effective source of pain treatment for arthritis, as well as how they can reduce inflammation in your body and treat other chronic pain disorders like fibromyalgia.
How Common Is Arthritis In The Adult Population?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention says that more than 54 million people in America - around 23% of the adult population - suffer from arthritis.
Of that number, more than 24 million adults have limited mobility due to their arthritis, with one in four reporting some form of severe joint pain. The CDC estimates that reduced mobility and disabilities stemming from arthritis come at a cost of $303 billion each year to the U.S. economy.
In Australia, more than four million people live with arthritis, which is expected to grow to 5.4 million by 2030. Arthritis is the second most common cause of early retirement in Australia and is expected to come at a cost of $1.5 billion to the economy by 2030.
Is An Infrared Sauna Good For Arthritis?
It’s important to note from the outset that the use of infrared saunas, in isolation, should not be considered a cure for something like arthritis.
Instead, we should think of it as a simple, convenient, and relaxing means of treating the symptoms of arthritis, like chronic pain and joint stiffness.
On that note, however, medical studies have begun to illuminate the health benefits of infrared sauna use in the context of arthritis patients, which has been shown to offer legitimate signs of treating pain in those patients.
More specifically, a pilot study from Clinical Rheumatology found that there was a “significant” impact on the short-term improvement of pain and stiffness in sufferers of arthritis, with the authors noting a “trend towards long-term beneficial effects” of infrared sauna use for these patients, as well as the fact that infrared saunas have had “no adverse effects” for the users. They also pointed out that their results indicated that “fatigue also decreased” in their patients.
Another study from the University of Twente asked arthritis sufferers to measure and rate their pain before and after using an infrared sauna, with their results showing that “pain and stiffness improved significantly during treatment,” with the mean improvement rated anywhere between 40-60% specifically for arthritis pains. The authors noted that “infrared whole-body hyperthermia has statistically significant positive direct effects upon pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis patients.”
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How Does An Infrared Sauna Help Alleviate Arthritis Pain?
It’s widely believed that as our bodies soak up the light energy inside an infrared sauna, the energy penetrates around 5cm into our skin tissue and our muscles.
This heat energy is absorbed by our bodies, which promotes the spread of oxygen-rich blood throughout our circulatory system as our blood vessels dilate.
The increased flow of oxygenated blood can help to relieve pain in problem areas for sufferers of arthritis, as well as provide more energy to the ‘powerhouse’ of our cells, also known as the mitochondria. The mitochondria are powered by what’s known as ATP, which receives a significant power boost from infrared energy and promotes the flow of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to flow through our bodies.
On a cellular level, time spent inside an infrared sauna can be thought of as ‘charging up’ our cells and giving your body the tools it needs to send oxygen-rich blood to problem areas, which is what researchers have noted in the context of arthritis patients.
Do Saunas Help Reduce Inflammation?
One of the most common causes of inflammation within our bodies is a lack of oxygenated blood that allows our cells to repair themselves and fight further inflammation.
Inflammation is your body’s response to an infection or damage inflicted by an injury or accident and triggers a response for your body to fight the source of the inflammation. Sources of inflammation range from injuries, infections from germs and bacteria, as well as a lack of sleep, hydration or a poor diet.
As we’ve discovered, infrared saunas can help reduce some of the key symptoms of inflammation, as your cells and circulatory system receive a significant boost of oxygen-rich blood.
It’s also worth pointing out that your body’s ATP, or ‘currency’ of the cells, is stimulated by the infrared light energy, which can be the catalyst for the production of more white blood cells that fight inflammation inside your body.
As a result, time spent inside an infrared sauna helps to treat areas of inflammation with added blood flow and even fortifies your body’s immune system to fight future inflammation.
How To Treat Arthritis Pain With An Infrared Sauna
The treatment of pains associated with arthritis and other chronic pain disorders like fibromyalgia can be complemented by the use of an infrared sauna on a consistent basis.
We recommend you spend at least three sessions per week in an infrared sauna to get the maximum health and pain treatment benefits on offer.
The first major consideration here is to ensure that you’re properly hydrated, so drink at least three glasses of water before you step inside. Once you’re inside, spend anywhere between 15-45 minutes in the infrared sauna to allow your body to soak up as much infrared light as possible and transfer this energy into cellular-boosting chemicals.
If you're interested in an infrared sauna cabin for home, click here to view our range of full-spectrum saunas, far-infrared saunas, and outdoor saunas.
Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and you should always consult a licensed health practitioner before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or existing pain treatment regimen.
Resources From The Video:
Neuropeptide substance P and the immune response
Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. A pilot study showing good tolerance, short-term improvement of pain and stiffness, and a trend towards long-term beneficial effects
Fever and the thermal regulation of immunity: the immune system feels the heat