The Effects of Infrared Therapy on Tendon Damage
Your tendons do the job of attaching your muscles to your bones. Without them, movement would be impossible. When you injure a tendon, it becomes inflamed and painful. Any movement involving the tendon becomes difficult or painful. Tendinitis is the most common form of tendon injury. It’s not surprising that tendinitis tends to occur around the hardest-working tendons in the body–those at the ankles, knees, wrists, elbows and shoulders. Ice and rest can help your tendons to heal from injury. Infrared therapy may also help to treat tendinitis.
Principles of Infrared Therapy
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation that’s outside of the visible spectrum. It has a longer wavelength and lower frequency than visible light. It’s believed to help wounds to heal, to improve circulation and to improve muscle function.
Infrared therapy is delivered through light-emitting diodes affixed to flexible pads. The pads are put on the skin around the area that’s injured, painful, or showing signs of poor nerve response. The diodes emit infrared light into the skin, stimulating circulation to the area, which helps to promote healing.
Infrared Therapy and Tendon Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory properties of infrared therapy can help to speed healing in patients suffering from tendinitis. In a Norwegian study appearing in the January 2006 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers tested infrared therapy on patients experiencing tendinitis in the Achilles tendon. Within 75 minutes after therapy, patients showed a significant decrease in the amount of prostaglandins they were producing. Prostaglandins are a compound the body produces in response to inflammation. Patients also experienced a drop in pain after treatment. The researchers conducting the study concluded that infrared therapy might be beneficial to patients with an inflammatory condition like tendinitis.
Infrared Therapy and Edema
In addition to reducing pain and inflammation, infrared therapy may also reduce edema. Edema is the fluid retention in an area commonly associated with swelling. In a study published in the April 2004 issue of the Journal of Clinical Laser Medicine and Surgery, researchers found that treatment with light from infrared diodes relieved swelling that had resulted from a tendon injury. The effect of reducing edema was almost immediate, leading researchers to conclude that infrared therapy can play a useful role in recovery from tendon injuries. Reducing edema is associated with a quicker recovery of function in the injured area.