A research study conducted by Harvard Medical School reported that patients suffering with long term peripheral nerve injury showed progressive improvement in nerve motor function with the use of Low Level Laser/Light Therapy (LLLT) leading to significant functional recovery.
What Is Infrared Light Therapy?
Near Infrared Light Therapy (NIR) is a unique form of photo-biomodulation therapy -emitting special wavelengths of light energy to evoke a higher healing potential. Near Infrared Light (NIR) dramatically increases circulation to injury sites and areas of chronic pain. The result is relief of discomfort and pain, improved sensation, and regeneration of damaged tissues.
NIR therapy has been the subject of many studies involving nearly 5,000 patients. The results have been published in journals, such as, Practical Pain Management, the Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications, Diabetes Care, Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, and the journal of Age and Aging. These studies noted that significant pain reduction and improved sensation were routinely observed with the use of NIR therapy.
There are many different forms of near infrared lasers (NIR) on the market. The pricing on NIR lasers can vary significantly from $100 up to $20,000 dollars. Before you run out and purchase a hundred dollar NIR laser, it’s important to realize that not all NIR’s have the same ability to repair a damaged peripheral nerve; therefore, it’s important to be familiar with the therapeutic benefits and differences of infrared lasers.
In order to elicit nerve repair in peripheral nerves, the infrared light wavelength must be between 800 nm – 1100 nm. Medical evidence shows that NIR (800nm – 1100nm) triggers Nitric Oxide (NO) release, found to be extremely beneficial for neuropathy sufferers.
Benefits of Nitric Oxide (NO)
- Increases blood flow to injured or damaged nerves.
- Increases circulation, oxygen and nutrient delivery to nerves
- Stimulates proper nerve transmission
- Decreases pain by stimulating endorphin production
- Decreases muscle spasm
- Stimulates cellular reproduction
- Stimulates the production of collagen
- Increases lymphatic system activity
The vast majority of lasers owned by doctors operate between the wavelengths of 600 nm – 780nm. The problem with this wavelength of NIR is that it will only penetrate approximately 1/8 inch deep in the body, which isn’t deep enough to affect a peripheral nerve. These lasers are more popular in the medical community because they are less expensive. Although this wavelength of NIR laser does have some therapeutic benefits, it is ineffective in repairing and regenerating damaged peripheral nerves.
Who Needs NIR therapy?
NIR is useful for all forms of peripheral neuropathy but especially with cases resulting from diabetic neuropathy. Diabetics produce far less nitric oxide than individuals with normal glucose levels. As a result, they often suffer from problems related to poor circulation and impaired wound healing. NIR not only aids in repairing the damaged nerve, but also in rapidly repairing what usually is a slow-healing ulcer.
Other Conditions That Benefit from NIR:
- Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy
- Statin Induced Peripheral Neuropathy
- Slow Healing Wounds
- Plantar Fascitis