Background: Low back pain is a significant cause of lost workplace productivity. Identification of simple, safe, and effective treatment strategies that can be used in the workplace are needed.
Objective: To assess whether far-infrared therapy (FIR) can ameliorate chronic back pain in office workers with the hypothesis that back pain could be effectively treated while at work with minimal interruption to the normal working day.
Methods: In a cohort study, 50 subjects with low back pain of at least six months duration were recruited from a Florida corporation. The subjects were instructed to use a FIR pad placed in their chairs in contact with the affected area while on the job over a 4 week period for at least 45 minutes a day during workdays. The FIR device used for the study was the Thermotex TTS Platinum Pad, a widely available FDA-registered medical device with preclinical data on its deep heating effects. The outcomes were assessed using subscales of the SF-36v2.
Results: Results showed statistically significant changes in 9 of 10 SF-36 subscales including both physical and mental components with a near significant improvement to General Health. There was progressive improvement each week in physical component and bodily pain scales. There were no reported adverse events.
Conclusions: Use of site-specific FIR therapy over a four-week period in the workplace was associated with significant clinical improvements in pain and quality of life for office workers with previously refractory low back pain.
Keywords: Workers; alternative back pain treatment; chronic back pain; device; workplace wellness.