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Treating the "molasses" heavy limbs feeling of ME/CFS using far infrared heat on the spine

Hip

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SUMMARY: This is a possible therapy to reduce the unpleasant heavy limbs feeling of ME/CFS, also called "molasses limbs", using far infrared heat on the spine.

I have a theory that the ME/CFS heavy limbs sensation might be caused by inflammation in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG), which are situated along the length spine.

Dorsal root ganglia inflammation is known to exist in ME/CFS, as autopsies have found inflamed DRG in more than one patient. And Dr William Pridgen theorizes that fibromyalgia and ME/CFS may be caused by herpes simplex virus infection in the dorsal root ganglia. Varicella zoster virus also persists and can reactivate in the DRG.

The dorsal roots coming from the spine carry sensory information, rather than motor information (motor function — your ability to move limbs — is transmitted by the ventral roots of the spine).

This means that any disruption to the functioning of the dorsal root ganglia is likely to affect your sensations, rather than motor function. This is why I was theorizing that DRG inflammation might create the sensation of heavy limbs.


Diagram Showing a Dorsal Root Ganglion
(which is one of many found along the length of the spine)
1553664977484.png

Since the dorsal root ganglia are located not very far beneath the surface of the skin on your back, I started experimenting with lots of far infrared radiation on my back, which is anti-inflammatory.

I have a ceramic far infrared heater which has three 800 watt porcelain ceramic elements (similar to the model shown below), and produces a lot of radiant heat. These type of far infrared heaters use the same ceramic heating elements as found in infrared saunas. (These ceramic elements simply consist of a ceramic material in which electrical heating wires are embedded).

The long wavelength of far infrared radiation penetrates deeper into the body tissues than the shorter wavelengths of near infrared, so is more likely to reach the DRG, where it will hopefully have an anti-inflammatory effect.

My impression is that daily exposure to this far infrared heat on my back for several hours a day does reduce the heavy limb feeling. I apply this heat to my back while sitting down and working on the computer.

MASTER TS 3A Far Infrared Heater
with 3 x 800 watt porcelain ceramic elements
1553664991233.png

Brands of far infrared ceramic heater include Master, Fireball, Sealey and Rhino. Note that these infrared ceramic heaters are not the same that the ceramic blow heaters you can buy (infrared ceramic heaters emit only IR radiant heat, they do not blow hot air).

Far infrared ceramic heaters are also different to the cheaper far infrared quartz halogen heaters. Ceramic heaters run at a lower temperature than quartz halogen, and Planck's law of black body radiation tells you that this lower temperature will produce a longer wavelength of infrared.

Quartz halogen infrared heaters (which have a glass halogen strip bulb) glow red, but ceramic infrared heaters produce no perceptible glow as they have a lower temperature (though you will see a very faint glow at night if you turn the lights off).

Because the wavelength emitted by the quartz halogen heaters is not as long as the ceramic heaters, I don't think it will penetrate the tissues as deeply.

Besides this possible therapeutic use, I find the far infrared heat from these ceramic heaters very nice. Because it penetrates tissue, it seems to "warm your bones". And unlike regular central heating, far infrared heat does not produce that grogginess and drowsiness that stale centrally heated indoor air results in, so it is a good way to keep warm in the winter without becoming groggy.
 
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@Hip , that is interesting. A few of us are using the FIR infrared heating pads that are very nice. They use stones for the element. I wonder if these are working in the same kind of way.
 
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Interrsting! But ussually i avoid heat becuase it vassondilates me and my POTs gets worst, I am given vassocontriction drugs instead. I wonder if Ice for my case would penetrate enough to help the spine imflamtion? I place ice on the base of my neck a lot and do wonders.
 

Hip

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FIR infrared heating pads that are very nice. They use stones for the element.
I have not seen those, would you have link to a product I can look at? Any idea of the temperature the stones are heated to?

The ceramic bulbs in these ceramic far infrared heaters are in essence just a heated stone. It's the fact that they are heated that created the infrared light.

Any heated object will emit light radiation, with the wavelength of light emitted related to the temperature. In these ceramic far infrared heaters, the ceramic bulbs are heated to around 500ºC (930ºF). At that relatively low temperature, the bulb produces a very deep, long wavelength of infrared light which is invisible to the eye.
 
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Hip

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Looks like the temperature range on your heating pad product is 39°C to 70°C, which being lower will produce even longer infrared wavelengths, though possibly may not produce much volume of heat. When I have my ceramic infrared heater on my back, there is so much lovely radiant heat it feels like being on the beach under the hot sun in a tropical country.



@Hip did I accidentally link to my personal amazon account?
I just saw a standard Amazon product page showing the heating pad.
 
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You might not enjoy the temperatures hovering between 90 and 100F in the months of July and August. Well, you might for the first year or so! I do like it here, I could come visit the UK in August though!
 

Hip

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When I was younger, I adored extreme heat and hot sun. It would always elate my mood and make me feel great.

Decades ago I stayed in Rio de Janeiro for 18 months, and there the summer temps would usually be 40ºC (104ºF) for months on end (including at night time, because the temp would not drop much at night). And sometimes it would hit 45ºC (113ºC). You can almost feel your brain melting at 45ºC, especially because it was also very humid, but I loved it!

But now when we do get a few hot weeks in the middle of the UK summer, where if you are lucky the temp can reach 30ºC (86ºF) for a few days, I tend to feel more tired initially, and it takes me several days to get used to that heat level. I guess that might be due to POTS.
 
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@Hip , that is interesting. A few of us are using the FIR infrared heating pads that are very nice. They use stones for the element. I wonder if these are working in the same kind of way.
I was wondering about that myself, since sitting up in order to allow a heater to warm up my spine would be torture, especially on days with molasses limbs (I love that term by the way! I had never heard it before, but it describes the feeling so accurately!).