Physiological advantages of infrared sauna for a nerve pain afflicted hand.

Advantages of Infrared Sauna: Can It Help With Nerve Pain?

Nerve pain or neuropathic pain affects an estimated 7% of the world’s population. Within that percentage, the condition occurs in about one in every ten adults over 30, and manifests as constant or intermittent pain characterised by shooting, burning, or stabbing sensations. As many look for alternatives, infrared treatment has emerged as a viable, drug-free option. From the team at Sun Stream Saunas NZ, we’ll delve into how infrared sauna sessions can aid in nerve pain management, especially at a cellular level.

What is neuropathic pain or nerve pain?

Nerve pain occurs when the nervous system is damaged or malfunctions. Even without underlying triggers, damaged nerve fibres send false signals to the brain causing this chronic pain. This condition often progresses if the root cause remains unaddressed, typically starting at the extremities (hands and feet) and potentially advancing towards the brain and spinal cord.

Neuropathic pain symptoms:

  • Spontaneous pain: This might include a simple “pins and needles” feeling to something like an electric-shock pain that happens for no apparent reason.
  • Hyperalgesia: This occurs when normally painful sensations such as pinpricks feel intensified.
  • Hypoalgesia: The opposite of hyperalgesia, this happens when normally painful stimuli feels dampened or there is a decrease in pain response.
  • Allodynia: This condition occurs when normally painless sensations cause pain. It can also be described as an extreme sensitivity to touch. 
  • Insomnia: This is difficulty sleeping probably due to stress related to disturbed sleep and pain.

Causes of neuropathic pain

Nerve pain can develop in anyone at any age for various reasons. Common causes include diseases such as cancer, diabetes, shingles, and syphilis, as well as injuries or infections. In some cases, heightened nerve sensitivity can lead to pain in response to normal sensations. The condition can also arise without a known cause.

Because the condition affects the nerves, it leads to debilitating changes in motor skills and normal bodily functions. Those affected often find themselves unable to perform common daily tasks or activities they used to enjoy resulting in a decreased quality of life.

Advantages of infrared sauna for nerve pain

Infrared light penetrates the skin and goes as deep as two to seven centimetres meaning it can reach the body’s muscles, bones, and nerves. Studies have also shown that infrared light wavelengths (780 to 1000 nm) fits the ideal wavelength range for treating inflammatory conditions which can result in nerve pain. Combined, these two mechanisms activate key bodily functions that aids nerve pain management. 

Infrared treatment induced cellular healing

On a cellular level, infrared light triggers the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which provides energy to the cells and aids in the active transport of nutrients to blood vessels. This is often depleted in parts of the body heavily affected by nerve pain. By boosting ATP production, infrared therapy helps cells in affected regions regain optimal function and activate self-healing mechanisms.

In addition to ATP, infrared treatments also promote fibroblast growth. These cells produce collagen proteins and other fibres that contribute to the formation of connective tissues which are crucial in cell repair and regeneration. 

Improved blood circulation

Infrared therapy helps induce the production of nitric oxide, a cell-signalling molecule that helps blood vessels widen, enhancing blood flow. Improved circulation ensures that damaged nerves receive essential nutrients and oxygen, promoting healing. Additionally, nitric oxide produces an anti-inflammatory effect on the body under normal physiological conditions which can help reduce pain sensations. 

Reduction in nerve pain receptors

A study led by Dr. Paul Heppenstall discovered that near-infrared light can help reduce nerve pain receptors. The study began with the team identifying a subgroup of nerve cells causing oversensitivity to pain in mice which were then subjected to infrared treatment. This resulted in the nerve endings retracting from the surface of the skin, lessening the probability of them getting triggered and causing unnecessary pain.

After the nerve endings shrunk bank, researchers assessed the method’s effectivity by measuring the mice’s pain response. Before, the mice with neuropathic pain would quickly withdraw upon a light touch. After the therapy, the mice’s reflexes went back to normal. More importantly, the effect of the treatment lasted for weeks until the cropped nerve endings grew back.

While this research is still at animal testing stages, the results are promising. Notably, when researchers looked into the human skin, they found the neurons targeted in mice were the same as their counterparts in humans.  

Enjoy the full benefits of infrared saunas with Sun Stream Saunas!

Infrared sauna therapy offers a natural, non-invasive means for managing nerve pain, enhancing cellular healing and blood circulation, improving the quality of life for those affected. Sun Stream Sauna NZ provides a range of infrared saunas, allowing individuals to experience these benefits from the comfort of their own homes. Explore our product catalogue, or contact us to learn more about how our infrared saunas can meet your needs.