Back pain, especially in the low back region is extremely common. The lower back, or lumbar spine is made up of bones, joints, nerves, ligaments and muscles. This intricate and interconnected structure work together to hold the body upright, support the spine and allow for mobility. However, when part of this structure becomes injured, overexerted or aggravated the lower back becomes vulnerable. A strong back is vital and the low back is responsible for a great deal. It supports the weight of the upper body and allows us to twist, bend, rotate and walk. Even the pelvis, legs and feet are affected by the low back as nerves located in the lumbar spine supply feeling and power to lower body muscles.
Injuries to the muscles, discs, joints or ligaments can result in minor to acute pain. The body naturally reacts by becoming inflamed, which often leads to severe discomfort and immobility. Determining the cause of lower back pain can be tricky. Because the nerve supply in our bodies overlap each other, the brain may not accurately sense the origin of pain, making the length of time the pain lasts a useful indicator for the cause.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
Quite often overuse, strains, sprains, mechanical issues and injuries are the culprit. Low back pain can also come during a woman’s menstrual cycle or even from overdoing it during exercise. Other common causes include sciatica, lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, facet joint dysfunction, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, osteoarthritis, deformity, trauma and compression fractures. Less common causes include spinal infections, spinal tumors and autoimmune disease.
Find Relief from Lower Back Pain with Infrared Heat
Gentle and healing infrared rays can provide deep heating to your muscles and joints, loosening knots, reducing tissue stress and improving circulation. “Infrared waves penetrate the body to create heat that results in immediate therapeutic benefits through increased blood flow and tissue oxygenation that provides more energy to heal,” says Dr. Aaron Flickstein, Clinical Director for FIT Bodywrap. “A study by Matsushita in 2008 found that chronic pain patients experienced a significant reduction in pain levels (nearly 70%) after the first session of infrared therapy. Pain experience also decreased significantly and remained low throughout the observation period,” Flickstein explains. Studies such as this one are great examples the effective and fast acting effects infrared can produce.
So, how exactly does infrared provide relief? “Pain may be relieved via the reduction of attendant or secondary spasms,” says Flickstein. “Quite often pain happens due to “ischemia” or lack of blood supply due to tension or spasm. This issue can be improved by hyperthermia that heat-induced vasodilatation produces, thus breaking the feedback loop in which the ischemia leads to further spasm and then more pain. According to Flickstein the blood flow increase is quite significant as one can go from producing about 5-7 quarts of blood a minute to about 14 quarts a minute during infrared immersion.
Additionally, the use of heat has been shown to reduce pain sensation by direct action on both free-nerve endings in tissues and on peripheral nerves. “In one dental study, repeated heat applications led finally to abolishment of the whole nerve response responsible for pain arising from dental pulp,” says Flickstein.
A randomized, controlled trial of infrared therapy for chronic low back pain took forty patients and randomly assigned them to infrared therapy sessions or placebo therapy. Patients experienced short sessions with either infrared the placebo unit 7 times a week and researchers then measured each patient’s numerical rating scale (NRS) of pain. The patients in the placebo group went from 7.4 of 10 to 6 of 10, not a significant difference. But what happened to those who received the infrared therapy? Their mean NRS score dropped from 6.9 out of 10 to 3 out of 10!
This led researchers to conclude that the patients who were provided with infrared therapy noticed a decline of 50% in low back pain levels with no adverse effects.
If you experience frequent lower back pain, you know how long-lasting and debilitating it can be. The good news? There are options for finding relief. When an injury or low back pain flare up occurs taking the time to rest and utilizing infrared heat can not only lessen the pain, but help you recover faster!