“ Brand: Philips / Type: Pain Relief „
For years I've had problems with upper back ache that began with a trapped nerve several years ago and that now leaves me stiff and achey if I spend too long on the computer (which I often do!). My husband also has persistent neck and lower back problems after an injury, so between us we're pretty hopeless! Then I read recently that infrared heat lamps had been shown to have a positive effect on back pain.
In a review of back pain treatments, the Daily Mail listed infrared heat lamps as one of the top five. A study at Rothbart Pain Management Clinic in Canada showed that it halved pain levels. However, it does point out that this is a single trial and it would need to be confirmed in larger studies.
Nevertheless, this sounded very much worth a try. I have an infrared heat massager which I've found to be very helpful, but the downside of this is it depends on having someone around to give a massage. A heat lamp could be used any time and would also be ideal when it's just too painful to tolerate a massage - something that's a problem for my husband.
After shopping around on the web we settled on the Philips Infracare lamp HP3631, which was £48.00 from Argos. The one shown in the picture is not the correct model, so please see the Philips site to view this model.
The paperwork in the box states:
'The InfraCare produces infrared light, which penetrates deeply into the skin. This warms the skin, dilating the blood vessels and thus stimulating blood circulation. The blood transports the substances necessary for rebuilding and nourishing the body's tissues more rapidly, while at the same time, waste substances are removed more quickly. This means treatment with InfraCare can relieve muscular problems and pain.'
It suggests usage for treatment of the following:
'Occasional or chronic muscle pains, stiff muscles and stiff joints.
Lower back ache.
Treatment of chilblains
Preparation for a massage
Sprains and bruises
Treatment of common colds
Pain relief, eg. Pain due to rheumatic disorders'
Bear in mind, though that it's not recommended if you have a swelling or inflammation, as the heat can aggravate these conditions.
It's 31cm high by 20cm wide and has a carrying handle. It's very lightweight to pick up. Next to the handle there is a timer and a timer button. You set this to the required time, from 0-99 minutes and it counts down and beeps when your time is up. Below this is the 300w halogen lamp, and at the front of this there is a filter which protects against undesired light. Below the lamp there is an on-off button with a power-on light. At the back of the lamp there are vents and a fan. The angle of the lamp is adjustable to suit your position.
There are detailed instructions of how to use the InfraCare safely, and diagrams showing how to position it for use on legs, arms, back, neck and face. It should be used at 30-40cm distance with at least 25cm free space around it to prevent overheating. I usually sit on a stool, with the lamp on a chest of drawers and this is the right height to use for my upper back. It's recommended not to look in the direction of the light as this may be uncomfortable to the eyes but there is no need to wear goggles. The lamp does not have any tanning power, so it isn't going to give you a tan either. First I set the timer, then press the On switch to turn on the lamp. During use it makes a gentle humming sound.
There are certain conditions where light therapy is not advised, such as if you have a light allergy, skin disease, eye problems or if you are on medication (some medications cause light sensitivity). In these cases, the website advises you consult a doctor before use. There are no known side effects from using it during pregnancy.
The lamp takes a few minutes to warm up, but you can start using it straight away. As the warmth builds up I find it has a very soothing and relaxing effect on my aching muscles. The heat goes deep into the tissues and the muscles stay warm for half an hour or so afterwards. I also notice a tingling sensation which I assume is the increased circulation in the area, and this also carries on for about half an hour or so afterwards. Although it's soothing and helpful, I think I still prefer the infra red massager for loosening up tense muscles.
My husband, who has more severe backache than me, says that after five minutes it starts to feel better, and the pain is reduced for several hours. When he's having a particularly bad episode of pain, it's something he knows he can resort to that he knows will help ease it.
Overall it's a good buy and I think we'll get plenty of use out of it, my husband more than me. As we only bought it recently it's not possible to say whether it will have any long term therapeutic effects. However on a day to day basis, it's quite helpful.
For more information visit www.philips.com, searchword InfraCare.
See Daily Mail archives for the following article:
Back Pain: Experts Definitive Guide to What Really Works - and What Doesn't, by Roger Dobson, Daily Mail 12th January 2009
Ideal radiant heat source for treating deeper-seated muscular ailments and sports injuries.