Infrared Therapy and Rheumatoid Arthritis

In July 2008 researchers  – Fredrikus G. J. Oosterveld , Johannes J. Rasker, Mark Floors, Robert Landkroon, Bob van Rennes, Jan Zwijnenberg, Mart A. F. J. van de Laar and Gerard J. Koel – published an article in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology in association with the International League of Associations for Rheumatology. The title of the article was “Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis”

The goal of the study was to investigate the effects of infrared (IR) Sauna, a form of total-body hyperthermia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

The experiment had 34 participants. 17 suffering from RA and 17 suffering from AS.  During a 4 week period, all participants where administered 8 infrared sessions. The IR sessions where well tolerated and no adverse effects or clinical exacerbation of disease was measured.

During the IR sessions, pain and stiffness decreased clinically. The decrease was statistically significant. And fatigue also decreased.

Over the 4 week period there was clinical improvement in pain stiffness and fatigue but note the improvement was not statistically relevant.

The researchers conclude “From this study, it appears that IR whole-body hyperthermia has direct beneficial effects. Although in the long-term, there is a tendency toward improvement of clinical symptoms of RA and AS patients, there is no sufficient evidence that the short-term effect will last for several days or weeks. Therefore, further controlled clinical studies with a larger study population are necessary.”

CONCLUSION: What does this mean?

The study shows that there are significant positive effects on pain, stiffness and fatigue both during the IR session itself as during the entire 4 week trial period. During the IR session, the improvement are significant enough to be considered statistically relevant or proven by the study. For the rest of the 4 week period the improvements are significant, but not significant enough to draw conclusions based on this one study.

As the researches put it : “A pilot study showing good tolerance, short-term improvement of pain and stiffness, and a trend towards long-term beneficial effects “

The full text of this article can be found on the Springer website


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  1. This sounds like a very interesting study indeed. I am astonished that infrared sessions could have such a significant impact on this disease! That said there is apparently much we can still learn about rheumatoid arthritis. Thank you for the post, and I’ll be sure to look into the effects of infrared therapy.

  2. hey there, truly interesting posts you make, just keep up the great work, will be back for more!

  3. Hi!
    Here is some simple tips. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, always pay attention to what you are eating. Some foods can actually cause arthritis pain in some people. Try using an elimination diet. Remove problem foods from your diet and slowly add them back over time. Dairy and seafood are known to cause allergic reactions which trigger arthritis symptoms.

  4. Hello, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing the great post. Also, I read about a new discovery which has improved our knowledge of inflammatory disease. Apparently, there is a cloud of inflammatory molecules that surrounds the cells, which are responsible for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. I figured that you might find this interesting , so I wanted to share it with you.

  5. I really like this website. Given the number of people who have rheumatoid arthritis (more than 2 million Americans alone), it is surprising that so many people still no so little about this chronic autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is not just an “old person’s disease”. RA symptoms can start during childhood. Hopefully, sites like this one will help increase people’s awareness of this disease. Thanks again for the great post!


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