What is Infrared Radiation Therapy
Infrared Radiation (IR) is an effective method to reduce intense pain in patients and is used in pain management for chronic and acute cases.
Infrared Radiation (IR) is a band of light energy with a wavelength longer than the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum, i.e., from 760 nm-1 mm.
This treatment uses infrared light to get into the deeper levels, heat the muscles and tissues that have sustained injuries, and decrease pain.
Alternate Name of Infrared Radiation Therapy
Infrared Radiation Therapy used for pain management is also known as LLLT (Low-level Light Therapy) or PBM (Photobiomodulation Therapy).
In infrared radiation, the healthcare professional keeps the probe on the skin surface of the affected area.
How is Infrared Radiation Therapy Performed?
For medical treatment using infrared light, professionals use different kinds of lamp sources for the emission of infrared light.
These types are Luminous Generators, which emit light in the near IR range, i.e., 700-1400 nm and Non-Luminous Generators, which emit light in the Far IR range, i.e., 3000-0.1 mm. The light can get nearly 4 cm deep below the skin in the Far IR.
Before starting the procedure, the technician who will carry it out must wash their hands carefully. They will keep the area where they need to apply the heat and radiation-exposed, but cover the rest of the patient's body to prevent any unwanted exposure. The patient's eyes must be protected from any radiation using black goggles.
The lamp is at a distance of 45-55cm. The time of exposure shall depend on the prescription of the attending physician. Unlike UV radiation, IR radiation does not cause any harm or damage to cells and is safe to use.
Infrared light activates the photoreceptors present in the cells, which initiate a series of metabolic reactions resulting from activation. The process releases a messenger molecule, Nitric Oxide, from the cells. This molecule has several positive effects, including:
- Prevention of platelet aggregation in the blood vessels
- Vasodilation of arteries helps the smooth flow of blood
- Reducing oxidative stress by binding with the free radicals
- Maintaining blood pressure
These effects help improve nutrient and blood supply to the affected tissue region. Consequently, they assist in repairing the injured tissue, thus reducing the pain and inflammation.
Preparation for Infrared Radiation Therapy
- The procedure does not require the patient to be admitted to the hospital. It can be carried out in the OPD or daycare section.
- It is advisable for the patient to drink water and have light food before the therapy. Patients should avoid spicy food as this might lead to diarrhoea.
- Before preparing the schedule for radiotherapy, the radiation therapist or oncologist will check the detailed medical history of the patient and advise any test accordingly. CBC, ECG, X-ray, and scans of the affected area are some of the tests the surgeon might ask for.
- The patient should take the advice of the physician on whether to continue their normal dose of medicines. Also, it is better to quit alcohol and smoking before the commencement of radiotherapy.
Infrared Radiation Therapy is a non-invasive procedure.
Follow up care is a must for any procedure performed on the patient. In infrared radiotherapy, the medical professional needs to regularly check the patient's skin for redness, rashes, burns, or uneasiness.
Patients must keep themselves healthy and clean, rest, and get proper sleep. Patients should maintain a record of their everyday progress in a record book.
Risks Associated With Infrared Radiation Therapy
Skin Rashes, in some cases, heat allergy might lead to rashes appearing on the skin surface exposed to radiation.
- Skin Irritation: Prior lesions and wounds might irritate the skin surface.
- Redness of the Area: It may happen due to exposure to heat.
- Burns: You may get burnt if the technician applies excessive heat to a particular area during IR therapy.
- Eye Damage: The radiation may cause damage to the eyes.
- Dehydration: Excessive sweating and fluid imbalance may cause dehydration.
Recovery From Infrared Radiation Therapy
IR therapy is a non-invasive procedure where recovery is fast; patients can get back to their normal activities very soon. Normally, the patient needs to undergo IR therapy for a continuous period for maximum effect.
Patients must also practice any exercise shown by the physiotherapist per the physician's advice daily to get the best results. Also, it is imperative to maintain a healthy and less spicy diet to prevent any other complications, so that the patient can take the IR therapy regularly.
It is advisable to drink lots of fluids and take all medications timely before going for therapy. It will keep the person hydrated and healthy. Post therapy, it is advisable to rest and avoid lifting heavy weight so that no other muscle injury occurs.