Studies have shown that sauna improves blood circulation, reduces inflammation, and relieves pain. As a result, more patients choose saunas as a natural and drug-free alternative to manage Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms.
A sauna is a heat therapy in which you sit or lie down in a heated, enclosed room. The intense heat raises the skin’s temperature, leading to heavy sweating. It increases heart rate and encourages detoxifying perspiration, relieving pain, ache, and discomfort, all of which are common symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
There are different types of saunas, such as wood burning, electrically heated, steam room, and infrared sauna. However, infrared saunas are more effective than traditional saunas because infrared heat energy releases easy-to-absorb light waves. So, it works more effectively for patients with chronic bone, muscle, tendon, and joint pain, which are common symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
How Does Infrared Sauna Work?
Infrared saunas use a specific type of light to emit infrared waves that penetrate deeply into the epidermis at molecular and cellular levels. Therefore, our body is heated up from the inside out and releases intense, detoxifying sweat without feeling suffocated.
The heat relaxes our muscles and increases blood circulation by dilating blood vessels. Further, improved blood flow relieves inflammation in joints by creating a flow of hyperoxygenated hemoglobin through affected body parts. This naturally helps our body, easing swelling, stiffness, and fatigue commonly experienced by Rheumatoid Arthritis patients.
Moreover, the heat from an infrared sauna releases endorphins – feel-good chemicals – that interact with brain receptors. The rise in endorphin results in reduced pain perception and enhances good mood, making patients feel relaxed.
How Can Sauna Reduce Cardiovascular Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis?
People with Rheumatoid Arthritis are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases than those without this condition. The high levels of inflammation caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis accelerate cardiovascular risk. Inflammation leads to plaque build-up in arteries, gradually narrowing blood vessels and blocking blood circulation.
As mentioned above, the heat produced in saunas detoxifies our bodies and widens our blood vessels. This improves blood circulation throughout our body. Far-infrared saunas can effectively normalize blood pressure and may prevent congestive heart failure. This is how saunas can be good for a healthy heart, especially for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients.
What Are the Uses of a Sauna For Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis patients experience inflammation, pain, and swelling, which stretches the ligaments and tendons. Ongoing inflammation causes ankylosing and joint deformity in patients.
Exposure to infrared light results in heightened ATP production and increased oxygen supply in the blood. This results in better and faster blood flow throughout the body and reduces inflammation.
Repairs Cellular Damage
As mentioned above, inflammation over prolonged periods causes bone deformity in joints, especially in the later stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Increasing collagen may lead to improved joint health.
Exposure to infrared light boosts collagen production. It regenerates bone marrow faster and starts healing damaged tendons, bones, and ligaments due to Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Provides Relief from Stress Response
Research shows that a stressful lifestyle can contribute to the onset of the illness and trigger the ‘flare-ups’ phases. However, if Rheumatoid Arthritis patients can stay relaxed, it can lead to long-term remission.
The warm infrared light opens up and expands the cellular membrane to induce relaxation. This makes an infrared sauna a valuable therapy to draw the body out of stress response back into relaxation and encourage healing.
How to Use Infrared Sauna for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
If you’re trying a sauna for the first time, here are some tips to get the most out of your sessions:
Start slow. Infrared saunas raise the temperature of the unit from the inside out. So you can comfortably sit there for 10-50 minutes. Ideally, start slow and gradually increase your time as you become comfortable with high temperatures or heat. The more exposure to the infrared light spectrum, the greater the ARP production and the better the blood circulation gets.
Drink plenty of water. Because you sweat a lot during the sauna, drink plenty of water before and after your session.
Avoid a heavy meal before your sauna session. Otherwise, you may feel uncomfortable.
Wear loose-fitting clothes to stay comfortable and sweat freely. Spread a towel before you lie down on the bench.
Consult a rheumatologist if you’re considering infrared saunas to manage your symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Using a sauna will not replace your Rheumatoid arthritis treatment, but it may be an adjunct therapy. As a physician, I will always consider natural lifestyle interventions that are helpful for my patients and have minimal to no side effects.