What is infrared light treatment

The Red light therapyand the Ultra-red light therapybelong to the therapeutic procedures of light therapy. Both methods develop their therapeutic effect through the heat that develops in the tissue through radiation. For this reason, red light therapy and ultrared light therapy also belong to the sub-area of Heat therapy. Depending on the indication, the light is applied to the body surface to be treated. The procedures are defined as follows:

  • Red light therapy - therapeutic use of the longer-wave red components of natural, visible light.
  • Ultra-red light therapy - Therapeutic use of the no longer visible, low-energy thermal radiation that follows the red (treatment with infrared light).

Indications (areas of application)

  • Arthralgia (joint pain)
  • Osteoarthritis (joint wear)
  • Periathropathia humeroscapularis - generic term for various degenerative processes in the area of ​​the rotator cuff (muscle group that is very important for the stability of the shoulder joint), the joint capsule or the biceps tendon at the shoulder joint.
  • Inflammatory affections in the ear, nose and throat area (ENT) - e.g. B. Sinusitis (sinus infection)
  • Fibrositis syndrome - generic term for the painful conditions or pathological processes in the muscles (myositis) and structures of the skeletal soft tissues rich in connective tissue (bursitis, fasciitis, periostitis, periarthritis, tendinitis, tendovaginitis), nerve sheaths - sometimes referred to as "soft tissue rheumatism" ) Etc.
  • Fibromyalgia Syndrome - a widespread syndrome that leads to pain in the entire musculoskeletal system and is also characterized by stiffness, sensory disturbances, sleep disorders and chronic fatigue
  • Skin affections
  • Myalgia - diffuse or localized muscle pain, e.g. B. occurs as sore muscles or in combination with tension
  • Myogeloses - knot-like or bulge-shaped, clearly defined hardening in the muscles (colloquially also known as hard tension)
  • Myotendopathies - painful disease of the muscle attachment tendons
  • Neuritis (inflammation of the nerves)
  • Rheumatic joint affections - occur outside of an inflammatory episode
  • Painful spinal affections - e.g. B. in the case of degenerative changes or in the form of a root irritation syndrome (irritation of a nerve root e.g. through mechanical compression)

Contraindications (contraindications)

  • Acute rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of the joints)
  • Derailed diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Infectious arthritis
  • Adrenal insufficiency (adrenal fatigue)
  • Serious diseases of the cardiovascular system (e.g. heart attack)

The procedure

The red light therapy is carried out with the help of industrially manufactured incandescent light sources with an upstream red filter. The light emitted has a wavelength of around one μm and, compared to natural white light, penetrates deeper into the tissue without damaging the skin surface with heat. The infrared light used in ultrared light therapy is divided into three areas, similar to UV light: IR-A, IR-B and IR-C. The lamp emitters that are used for therapy filter out the IR-B radiation and the IR-C radiation in order to make better use of the deeper penetrating IR-A radiation. These special emitters send infrared light with a wavelength of 780 nm.

Another method usedwater-filtered infrared light A (wIRA):This is a special infrared radiation (thermal radiation) in the range of 780-1,400 nm (nanometers). This radiation occurs naturally through the filter effect of water and water vapor in the earth's atmosphere on the infrared radiation of the sun and is characterized by very good compatibility. Compared to other infrared radiation, there is no thermal effect on the top layers of the skin, so that it can be used in a variety of ways.
Water-filtered infrared A has three main effects on the tissue: It significantly increases the temperature, the supply of oxygen and the blood circulation. Irradiation with wIRA inhibits inflammation and increased fluid release, relieves pain and promotes regeneration [2].

In the tissue, the light causes a slow, steady increase in temperature, which occurs first in the superficial layers of the skin and later also in the deeper tissue layers due to the accumulation of heat. Ultimately, the heat transport leads to local heating of the lower temperature fat, tendon and muscle tissue. This process has the following effects:

  • Increase in local metabolic processes - metabolic activity is increased
  • Improvement of the local blood flow - through vasodilation (vasodilatation) the blood flow increases
  • Detonation of the muscles - the muscle tension is reduced
  • Reduction of synovial viscosity - the synovial fluid loses its viscosity

Both therapies are used several times in individual sessions, each lasting 10-15 minutes. The areas of application of red light therapy and ultrared light therapy are identical. The therapy can be selected depending on availability and tolerability.

Your benefit

Red light therapy and ultra-red light therapy are tried and tested methods that make a valuable contribution to the therapeutic treatment of inflammation in the area of ​​the musculoskeletal system. These are beneficial forms of therapy that are also suitable for home use.


  1. Heisel J: Physical medicine: practical knowledge of holding and movement organs. Georg Thieme Verlag 2005
  2. Hoffmann G: Clinical applications of water-filtered infrared A (wIRA) - an overview. Phys Med Rehabilitationsmed Kurortmed. 2017; 27: 265-274. doi: 10.1055 / s-0043-113047

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