What is infrared therapy?

Infrared radiation is a form of electromagnetic energy. Its intensity is measured with the unit of measurement “Piron”.

Infrared (IR) rays are in the electromagnetic spectrum between 750 and 15,000 nanometers (nm).

The proximal IR ranges from 750 to 1500 nm

Distal IRs range from 1500 to 15000nm

IR production is produced by oscillatory or vibratory movements. The sun is the main source of Ir, in fact it produces 59% of the solar emission belongs to this type of rays.

They spread thanks to phenomena of:

  • Absorption: IR absorption becomes heat. When the wavelength is greater, the greater the absorption.
  • Penetration: IR penetration is greater when the wavelength is shorter.

Infrared therapy is used in Physical Therapy to take advantage of the physiological effects of surface heat on human tissues for the treatment of various health conditions.

General characteristics of infrared

  • Form of radiant heat that can be transmitted without contact.
  • It produces a dry and superficial heat (its depth reaches only between 2 and 10 mm).
  • In the electromagnetic spectrum they are limited by the red color in the visible area and with microwaves.
  • Depending on the wavelength used they may be visible or invisible.
  • They are absorbed in surface tissues.

Infrared Emitters:

There are two types:

– Not bright:

They are incandescent elements exposed to the air. The device is a spiral electrical resistance on a refractory surface.

They emit a large amount of long-wave infrared (between 1500 and 2500nm).

Its depth is not greater than 2 or 3 cm.

We get the maximum power after a few minutes after connecting the device.

– Luminous:

They are built in a vacuum. They are lamps with tungsten or carbon filaments in a glass ampoule. Inside is the resistance or incandescent material. Contains inert gas at low pressure and a reflector to improve the direction.

They emit a large amount of proximal IR and visible light.

It reaches a depth of penetration between 5 and 10 mm.

Infrared Classification

IRs fall into three categories.

  • GO TO: They go from 750 to 1500 nm. They are characterized by having greater penetration worse less absorption. Its depth reaches capillaries and nerve fibers.
  • IR B: They go from 1500 to 3000nm. They have more surface absorption, therefore, less penetration. Its heating is mainly at the skin level.
  • IR C: They range from 3000 to 10,000 nm. They have no therapeutic use. Its use is given, for example, in equipment sterilizations.

IR penetration depends on the density of matter, wavelength and applied power

Effects of Infrared in the body

The effects are given by absorption and penetration capacity.

– Effects by local application:

  • Immediate erythema
  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Increased metabolism
  • Sweating
  • Anti-shrink
  • Antispasmodic
  • Smooth Muscle Relaxation
  • Increased membrane permeability
  • Pain relief
  • Increase in cell and tissue growth

– Effects by general application:

  • Generalized superficial vasodilation
  • Sedation and general relaxation

– Visible responses to infrared

  • First: Uniform Redness
  • Then: Reddish spots and white areas
  • Finally: Uniform reddish coloration

Application technique and dosimetry

The dose depends on the power of the generator and the duration of the treatment. It should not cause burning or burning sensation.

The dose is determined by the phase and the type of process we are treating, as well as by the purpose of the treatment, patient tolerance and contraindications.

For the application of infrared radiation, the lamp reflector must be clean and bright and the electrical connection must be grounded. Non-light sources must be preheated.

The patient will be in a comfortable position with the area to be treated uncovered, free of clothes, creams or metallic objects.

Untreated areas should be protected (in cases of generalized applications). It is important to cover the eyes with wet cotton and cover open wounds.

The infrared lamp is placed perpendicular to the skin 60 cm away. The duration varies from 15 to 30 minutes.

The skin should be monitored every 5 minutes to avoid burns or injuries.

Indications and Contraindications

This therapy is recommended to treat cases of:

  • Muscle spasm
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cervicobrachialgia
  • Lumboci√°tica
  • After the sport.
  • Peripheral arterial occlusive disease
  • Congestion of blood and lymphatic circulation.
  • Tendinosis
  • Capsulitis
  • Sprains in the acute or chronic sub stage.

But it is contraindicated for cases of cardiovascular problems

  • Varicose veins
  • Menstruation
  • Recent hemorrhages
  • Bleeding or purulent wounds
  • Recent intraarticular or intratubular effusions.
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity alterations
  • Thrombophlebitis
  • Active tuberculosis

Advantages and disadvantages of infrared

The disadvantages of this treatment are based on the fact that it takes at least 30 minutes to cause a dilation if we want to open an anastomosis the time is even greater. In addition the treatment is very superficial.

On the other hand, the advantages of infrared radiation are many, including:

  • Constant stimulus
  • Aseptic treatment
  • Direct control over the treated surface
  • Easy application
  • Low risk of burns

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