Back pain affects almost everyone in their thirties to fifties and can be caused by a variety of issues, including accidents, arthritis, and poor posture. Most of us have experienced it at some stage in our lives, with the most common symptoms feeling like a burning or tingling sensations, or sharp and stabbing pains. Thankfully, sauna therapy has been found to help with back pain. This is because the heat from the sauna opens up blood vessels, which aids in circulation and inflammation reduction, but more of this later. As an added benefit, sauna therapy should also help you relax and de-stress, which can aid your condition further. Let's take a look at how an infrared sauna session can reduce pain, reduce stress and muscle tension, and support physical therapy for chronic back pain.
Acute and chronic pain in everyday life
Chronic pain is long-term pain that lasts for more than three months. It can be caused by an injury that has healed, an ongoing illness, or problems with the nervous system. Acute pain, on the other hand, is short-term pain that usually goes away once the injury or illness has been treated.
Chronic pain can be very debilitating and can significantly reduce your quality of life. It can cause a lot of stress and lead to problems such as anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for chronic pain, but sauna therapy may be able to help.
Many people experience brief bouts of lower back discomfort. For those under the age of 50, it most likely comes from strenuous exercise or medical conditions, while for those over it can come from a lack of core strength or even worse, a herniated disc.
If the back pain is exercise-related, the majority of pain goes away with the affected area of muscles recovering.
In reality, 80% of individuals have had acute back discomfort at some time in their life. For most, proper back support, bed rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or occasionally some pain killers will usually relieve most low back pain.
However, some back discomfort becomes persistent. Back pain is defined as "chronic" if it lasts longer than six months without improving. Only a small proportion of acute back discomfort progresses to chronic back suffering.
The pain may simply be an expression of ongoing stress or tension and in some cases nerve sensitivity. However, in some instances, the discomfort does not seem to have a specific cause. Movement and physical therapy prescribed by a physical therapist can help with back pain when it persists for lengthy periods of time.
If you are suffering from back pain, you're not alone. Back pain is said to be the most frequent chronic pain identified, affecting more individuals than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined!
So what treatments are available for chronic back pain relief?
Sauna Back Pain
Saunas have always been used to help with pain relief and sore muscles, and it's been clinically proven that heat therapy not only relaxes sore muscles, but also speeds up the healing process.
Now, clinical studies can also show the relationship between dry sauna therapy and reducing the pain level of back and neck pain.
According to a recent 2019 research, they reduce lower back pain by 2 points on a scale of 1 to 10 and improve overall disability scores. In other words, the effectiveness of reducing pain was accompanied by enhancements in functional ability, such as improved mobility and the capacity to do one's job.
In another 1992 study, both the nervous system and rheumatoid arthritis associated pain was reduced and pain signals lowered by dry sauna therapy. Study participants were monitored for over one year and reduced pain was the consensial outcome.
Another research looked at the effects of infrared rays on pain perceptions in general. The group that received the infrared heat experienced a decrease in pain scores that was almost twice as large as the people who did not receive treatment. It took just six weeks for this substantial difference in outcome to become apparent.
A study compiling all of the past research on spa treatments reached a similar conclusion: pain and disability are significantly reduced among participants who soak in a sauna for low back pain.
So what do these medical papers suggest?
There’s strong preliminary evidence showing that infrared saunas are extremely helpful for countering chronic back pain through lowering pain receptors and improving overall mobility.
Because there are a number of different muscles in the back, and each has a different function, muscle spasms and achy muscles are really common.
These studies suggest that sauna for back pain can be attributed to how a sauna works, through an increase in blood circulation and an increase blood flow helps to relax sore muscles and provide white blood cells to help recover and repair.
What to expect from sauna therapy for back pain relief
When it comes to using an infrared sauna for back pain relief, people can expect a number of different benefits. First, the heat from sauna sessions will help to open up the blood vessels, and increase blood flow. This may cause the blood to rush to your skin, causing redness in some areas. This is a good thing though.
Not only is this good for your skin health by promoting oxygen rich blood to the surface of your skin, but it'll also allow white blood cells to reach your muscles, including your back muscles, to move any waste products stored. This can help to relieve back pain and stiffness.
Infrared sauna for root causes of pain
It turns out that your risk of chronic back pain increases if you're overweight, have a sedentary lifestyle, or don't exercise.
Fortunately, the benefits of sauna addresses both these areas. To begin with, we've done our own weight and fat loss studies at Clearlight Infrared® Saunas. Over the course of four months, three weekly sessions of infrared saunas resulted in a 4% body fat reduction. If the treatments are conducted in the afternoon or early evening, those fat loss benefits of sauna may be obtained in as little as two months.
The results of this outcome are obvious: you'll inevitably spend time in a sauna, whether to burn calories or eliminate pollutants from your body - both of which are necessary components in assisting you lose weight. Saunas increase the intensity of your heart's work. As a result, saunas help you avoid becoming sedentary, which is an important risk for back pain.
Pain relief by blocking pain receptors
Guess what? There's a lot of evidence that "near-infrared" light or heat, particularly, can treat lower back pain.
Near-infrared light has been found to reduce pain and counteract chronic back discomfort in numerous studies.
Our saunas emit far infrared heat, but with modifications to a full-spectrum sauna or the addition of red light therapy, you'll receive optimal exposure to near-infrared radiation as well.
Muscle relaxers and reduced stress
Many people suffer from chronic stress and sadness as a result of their back pain. Not to be confused with "clinical depression," but feeling worse than you should under normal circumstances seems to increase your risk of developing persistent back pain.
This is where the heat therapy from an infrared sauna comes in...
Relaxation is the most frequent reason many people visit all types of saunas in the first place, be it a steam room or infrared sauna.
Spending time in an infrared sauna causes your body to create endorphins - natural opioid-natured painkillers - as well as decrease the amount of stress hormones like “cortisol” and “adrenaline.
In a study that used Waon therapy (therapy where the entire body is heated such as sauna) for heart failure, researchers found that increasing parasympathetic and decreasing sympathetic nervous activity improved cardiac function and autonomic nervous activity. This is a clear sign that sauna relieves stress by positively affecting your nervous system.
Saunas are an excellent aid to counteract one of the most common back pain symptoms and causes, as they are strongly linked with feeling better.
Saunas A Tool for Back-Pain Management with physical therapy
Saunas, when used as part of a holistic program to treat back pain, can be quite beneficial. If you were wondering whether sauna therapy is good for lower back discomfort, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” Many physiological processes exist through which saunas help with lower back pain as you may have discovered in this blog article.
However, I do want to emphasise that infrared saunas are not a magic cure. Many other factors in your life, such as whether or not you exercise, how active you are, and the way you sit at work (for example, sitting at a computer for long periods of time) all contribute to back discomfort. So, whatever you can do to adopt a healthy lifestyle is what I urge.