Anodyne Therapy recommends infrared therapy for impaired microcirculation

In this blog, Anodyne Therapy deep dives into microcirculation, the causes and symptoms of impaired microcirculation, and the various treatments for it, including infrared therapy.

What is microcirculation?

The circulatory system sends blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body via a system of blood vessels. Once the oxygen is used, the blood returns to the heart and lungs to get more oxygen and repeats the process. The term “microcirculation” refers to the capillaries – the smallest of blood vessels. Capillaries connect the smallest arteries to the smallest veins.  

The importance of capillaries

Even though capillaries are only two tiny layers of thick, they are critical to circulation. They are the business end of the cardiovascular system, delivering oxygen and nutrients to feed all cells in the body including organs, muscles, and nerves. They also collect and eliminate carbon dioxide and waste products. Blood carried through the capillaries delivers inflammatory and immune cells to help the body heal itself from injury. The microvascular system also helps exchange heat to keep the body at an appropriate operating temperature. Of course, before blood gets to the microvascular system, it is pumped from the heart to the lungs where it picks up oxygen. From there, it travels through large arteries and smaller arterioles to the capillaries. 

There are about 100,000 miles of capillaries in an average body but they are so tiny that only a single red blood cell can travel through them at a time. 

Symptoms of impaired capillary blood flow

The most common symptoms of impaired microcirculation are typically experienced in the hands, arms, feet, or legs. They include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Throbbing
  • Pain
  • Muscle cramps

Underlying causes of reduced capillary blood flow

Sometimes reduced capillary blood flow is only temporary. For example, reduced blood flow while sleeping can lead to a numb arm upon waking up. The numbness goes away shortly after the pressure that caused the impairment disappears.  

At other times, the lack of circulation is due to another disease or condition. Several common causes are:

  • Diabetes: Diabetes is well known to impair microcirculation. This can happen in the eyes (retinopathy), kidneys (nephropathy), and nerves (neuropathy). 
  • Peripheral vascular disease: Impaired blood flow to the capillaries prevents sufficient blood flow to meet the metabolic demands of the surrounding tissue. This may result in cramps in the legs when walking, rest pain in the legs, and loss of muscle tissue. 
  • Obesity, chronic inflammation, and aging are other known causes.

How to increase microcirculation?

Infrared Light Therapy

Published research shows that infrared light therapy can increase microcirculation at least temporarily. Anodyne Therapy, LLC (Oldsmar, FL) conducted tests of microcirculation using a sophisticated medical device known as a scanning laser doppler (Moore Instruments). These tests demonstrated substantial increases in the microcirculation of the foot, knee, elbow, and heel after treatment with infrared light emitted from its products. These increases in microcirculation were greater than an electric heating pad or a light therapy product that used mostly red light. Their data also shows that blood flow remains elevated for up to four hours after an infrared treatment. There are few, if any, side effects of infrared light therapy, which is a drug-free option.


Massage temporarily improves circulation because the pressure created by the massage technique can move blood through areas of impaired circulation. The release of this same pressure allows new blood to flow in. 


Exercising muscles need more blood. And in response to regular exercise, the body actually grows more blood vessels by expanding the network of capillaries.


Many different foods may be beneficial in maintaining a healthy blood flow. These include red hot peppers, beets, garlic, nuts, certain fruits, and some fish, particularly those high in Omega-3, and other foods known for their antioxidant properties. Other foods that are unhealthy for the vascular system and blood vessels include fatty foods and foods that are high in sodium and nitrates.

Vitamins and Minerals

There is some evidence that Vitamin D, Vitamin B-3, and Magnesium, among others, can contribute to maintaining and increasing blood flow. 


Pentoxifylline may be prescribed to improve blood flow in patients with circulation problems to reduce aching, cramping, and tiredness in the hands and feet. It works by decreasing the thickness (viscosity) of blood. Vasodilators may also be prescribed. The risks, benefits, and drug interactions of medications should be explained by a  doctor or pharmacist. 

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can help reduce stress thereby decreasing inflammation and reducing constriction in blood vessels. 

The bottom line

Impaired microcirculation may cause such symptoms as tingling, numbness, throbbing, pain, and muscle cramps. It may also damage organs like the kidneys. Therefore, microcirculation is critically important for the healthy functioning of the body.

Infrared light therapy, medications, supplements, exercise, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, non-smoking, limiting alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, and stress reduction can contribute to maintaining or improving microcirculation and minimizing discomforting symptoms.