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Neuropathic Pain and Near Infrared Treatment

Neuropathic Pain and Near Infrared Treatment

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Tosi 4 Person Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna

Infrared saunas are used for a plethora of reasons. Some people use them as a tool to increase muscle recovery time, while others use them for more medically inclined purposes. An example of the latter would be neuropathic pain, which research has shown can be treated with near infrared therapy.

What is Neuropathic Pain?

Neuropathic pain can be defined as a burning or shooting pain and is associated with a damaged and/or malfunctioning nervous system. Symptoms can vary depending on the individual, but for the most part incorporate chronic pain. Sufferers have even reported that something as gentle as a light draft of air can trigger unbearable pain2.

Typical symptoms of neuropathic pain are as follows:

● Problems Sleeping

● Depression

● Muscle Weakness

● Burning Sensations

● Headaches

● Pain Throughout the Body

● Pain with Movement

● Sharp pain

● Extreme sensitivity

● Loss of feeling

● Numbness

● Tingling (Pins & Needles)

In the United States alone, 10% of Americans are affected by neuropathic pain. And to make matters worse, there has yet to be any safe and effective treatments that work universally.

Common Treatments for Neuropathic Pain

Normally, neuropathic pain is treated with over-the-counter and prescription pain medication, anti-depressant drugs, anticonvulsants, nerve blocking methods and even implantable devices2. But as stated, these don’t work for everyone, which is the heart of the issue.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Near Infrared and Neuropathic Pain Relief

Luckily, the European Molecular Biology Lab in Rome, Italy has been busy researching what causes this rare illness and has potentially developed a form of treatment. The research project has been spearheaded by Dr. Paul Heppenstall, whose team has been able to pinpoint a subgroup of nerve cells causing the notorious over-sensitivity to pain. After this breakthrough discovery, Dr. Heppenstall and his team focused their efforts on attempting to pacify this subgroup. (Note: For more information on Dr. Heppenstall and his teams study, please visit Nature Communications)

To better stimulate these nerves, the team created a chemical sensitive to light and that only binds to the specific subgroup of nerves. This light-sensitive chemical was then injected into mice. Once they were able to confirm that the chemical attached to the correct subgroup, the nerves were then subjected to near infrared light1. What happened next was the breakthrough Dr. Heppenstall and his team had been searching for.

The nerve endings withdrew from the surface of the skin, lessening the probability of eliciting unnecessary pain. Before their new form of therapy had been carried out, the mice (who suffer from neuropathic pain) were quick to withdraw themselves from the lightest physical touches. But after their near infrared session, these same mice were not displaying the same sensitivity as before.

Even though this research study is still in its animal testing stages, its results are extremely promising. It’s worth noting that Dr. Heppenstall and his researchers did examine human skin and found that the same neurons identified in mice were apparently similar, which leaves hope for future studies should they lead to human trials.

Do All Infrared Saunas Offer Near Infrared?

There’s already a surplus of benefits near infrared offers and Dr. Heppenstall and his team are further proving the immense value such therapy can produce. If you’re interested in having your at-home infrared sauna feature near infrared, be aware that not all saunas offer it by default.

When shopping, ensure that your potentially new purchase says that it’s “Full Spectrum”. Otherwise, you’re more than likely purchasing a strictly far infrared sauna, which are still great purchases, but lack the near infrared attribute. One great example of a full spectrum sauna would be the Tosi Collection. The Tosi fits the criteria of a full spectrum sauna because it outputs far, mid and near infrared simultaneously and is your one-stop shop for infrared therapy.


1 Dhandapani, R., Arokiaraj, C.M., Taberner, F.J. et al. (2018). “Control of mechanical pain hypersensitivity in mice through ligand-targeted photoablation of TrkB-positive sensory neurons.” Nature, Springer Nature Limited, 24 April 2018, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-04049-3.

2 Holland, Kimberly. (2017). “What You Should Know About Neuropathic Pain.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 18 December 2017, https://www.healthline.com/health/neuropathic-pain.

3 Newman, Tim. (2018). “Researchers Use Light to Battle Chronic Pain.” MedicalNewsToday, Healthline Media, 26 April 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321602.php#2.

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