Neuropathy, or nerve damage, is a complex and pervasive condition that affects millions of North Americans. Symptoms can vary wildly, running the gamut from mild numbness in the feet to chronic pain.
If you’re struggling with neuropathy, it can feel like a daily battle to get symptoms under control. Managing neuropathy and improving a sufferer’s quality of life often requires a multi-faceted approach, including medications and/or surgery. As awareness of the condition grows, neuropathy patients are looking to more natural therapies to help them overcome and heal from the condition.
Infrared laser therapy is a non-invasive, gentle, and effective treatment for neuropathy. Using low-frequency, longer-wavelength infrared light not only helps with pain and inflammation but can actually encourage damaged nerves to regenerate and heal.
What is neuropathy?
If you think of your body as a map, the nerves are the highways–shuttling millions of messages around the body to where they’re needed.
There’s a lot of traffic flowing along those nerve highways; it’s a deluge of constant signals that control everything from your reaction to pain to your blood pressure levels.
Nerves can either be:
- Autonomic – these are doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes, keeping track of all those involuntary functions we rarely consider, like heart rate, breathing, and digestion.
- Sensory – sensory nerves are the ones monitoring how we interact with our environment. They let you know when something is touching your skin or if it’s too hot or cold.
- Motor – our muscles move when our motor nerves tell them to. These are the guys at the controls, feeding signals to our muscles and helping us run, jump, grab, kick, and generally move through life.
Neuropathy is when our nerves are damaged. They might send the wrong messages, stop sending signals at all, or start firing spontaneously. A single nerve may be the culprit, or it could be several nerves from different systems going rogue.
With such a complex condition, it’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause. Nerves can go haywire for all sorts of reasons – disease, injury, autoimmune conditions, environmental toxins, vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, genetics.
Depending on the type of nerve affected, neuropathy can give rise to a whole host of different symptoms that can seriously disrupt quality of life.
Red light therapy for nerve pain and nerve damage
If you’re living with pain, you’ll try almost anything to escape it. The conventional treatment for neuropathy involves medications and/or surgery, depending on the cause.
Thankfully, red light therapy offers another route to relief. Red light therapy is a gentle, well-tolerated, and non-invasive method of controlling and alleviating nerve pain. Studies show exposure to infrared light can reduce chronic pain without any adverse effects.
In one trial, red light therapy was used to treat incurable, persistent nerve pain arising from a spinal cord injury. The treatment reduced sensitivity to pain and restored some motor function – suggesting that the infrared light wasn’t just acting as an anesthetic (but actually had a healing effect).
Further research confirms this, showing that infrared LEDs encourage wound healing and even nerve repair and regeneration.
Infrared light therapy for peripheral neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord are damaged. It’s a broad term covering more than 100 different types of nerve damage.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, more than 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy (an estimate actually assumed to be on the low side as many cases go undiagnosed).
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are largely dependent on which types of nerves are affected. If it’s a problem with the sensory nerves, you could expect to feel numbness or unusual sensations. In extreme cases, it can interfere with the body’s pain signals, causing agony at even the softest touch on your skin.
Peripheral neuropathy in the motor nerves can cause cramps, twitching, and loss of reflexes. Autonomic nerve damage can show up as digestive problems, spikes in blood pressure, and respiratory issues.
Fortunately, there’s increasing evidence that infrared light therapy can help with some of the most concerning side effects of peripheral nerve damage – restoring sensation and motor function, as well as reducing sensitivity and pain.
Infrared light therapy for neuropathy in feet
Diabetes is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy in the United States, and around 60 – 70 percent of people with diabetes feel it in their extremities, like feet and hands.
This type of neuropathy can cause a numbing, tingling, or burning pain in the feet. It is not pleasant, especially when you consider that we spend such a large part of our day on our feet. For a diabetic with severe neuropathy, simply taking a single step can be agonizing.
In a study of over 2,000 patients with peripheral neuropathy (just over half of whom had diabetes), those exposed to infrared light reported more sensation in their feet after treatment and a significant improvement in the pain in their feet – with some participants experiencing up to 67 percent less pain.
How to use red light therapy for neuropathy
At this stage, you may be intrigued by the potential benefits of red light therapy for your nerve pain and damage, but wondering, how exactly can I get it?
That’s the easy part–just sit under an infrared light!
The treatment is safe for all ages and, unlike UV light, will not damage the skin. It’s very soothing and relaxing; at most, you’ll usually feel a warm glow as the healing rays do their work.
The length of your session and/or how regularly you get your infrared depends on you – everybody is different, so it may take some experimenting. It’s generally safe for long-term use, so you don’t have to worry about overdosing on your red light therapy.
Last but not least, if your neuropathy leaves you tossing and turning at night, we have one more bit of good news. Red light therapy is even effective for insomnia and acts as a proven stress-reliever and mood enhancer.
As with any new form of treatment, please be sure to consult your medical professional before diving in. However, with the proper tools and preparation, it’s certainly worth considering infrared therapy as part of your holistic treatment plan for neuropathy.
We wish you the best on your journey to reaching a positive state of body and mind!