Overview of Infrared Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Infrared (IR) therapy has gained attention for its potential to alleviate chronic low back pain. A study published in Pain Research & Management aimed to assess the efficacy of IR therapy in providing pain relief for patients suffering from chronic, intractable low back pain.

Study Objective

The primary objective of the study was to evaluate the degree of pain relief achieved by applying infrared energy to the low back in patients with chronic low back pain lasting over six years.



  • Number of Participants: 40 patients with chronic low back pain.
  • Duration: Over six years.
  • Location: Rothbart Pain Management Clinic, North York, Ontario.
  • Groups: Patients were randomly assigned to either the IR therapy group (21 patients) or the placebo group (18 patients).

Infrared Therapy

  • Device: The IR therapy was administered using portable units in a waistband, powered by rechargeable batteries made by MSCT Infrared Wraps Inc (Canada).
  • Wavelength: The device converted electricity to infrared energy at wavelengths of 800 nm to 1200 nm.
  • Sessions: Patients attended seven weekly sessions, with pain levels recorded at each session.

Outcome Measure

  • Pain Assessment: The primary outcome was pain rated on a numerical rating scale (NRS), assessing overall pain and pain during movements such as rotating and bending.


  • IR Therapy Group: The mean NRS scores decreased significantly from 6.9 to 3.0.
  • Placebo Group: The mean NRS scores showed a modest reduction from 7.4 to 6.0.
  • Statistical Significance: The reduction in pain was highly significant both within the IR therapy group and compared to the placebo group.


The study concluded that infrared therapy is effective in significantly reducing chronic low back pain without adverse effects. The IR therapy unit used was safe and provided a convenient method for pain relief.



  • Pain Relief: Infrared therapy offers a non-invasive option for pain management in chronic low back pain patients.
  • Safety: The study observed no adverse effects, making it a safe alternative to other pain relief methods.


  • Ease of Use: The portable design of the IR unit allows patients to use it comfortably during daily activities.
  • Integration: Neurology practices can consider integrating IR therapy as part of a comprehensive pain management program.


Infrared therapy presents a promising approach for managing chronic low back pain. With its demonstrated efficacy and safety profile, it offers a valuable addition to the therapeutic options available to neurologists and pain management specialists. Further research and continued innovation in IR therapy devices could enhance patient outcomes and quality of life.


  1. Gale GD, Rothbart PJ, Li Y. Infrared therapy for chronic low back pain: A randomized, controlled trial. Pain Res Manag. 2006 Autumn;11(3):193–196.
  2. Additional references from the original study.
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2539004/

By integrating this advanced therapy into clinical practice, healthcare providers can offer improved pain relief and enhanced patient care for those suffering from chronic low back pain.

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