Solio Alfa+ is an FDA-cleared pain relief device that uses red and infrared light combined with radio frequencies to relieve chronic pain and support recovery after sports injuries.
My wife and I have been using Solio for the past few weeks to help recover from painful injuries we sustained during high-intensity CrossFit training.
In this Solio Alfa+ review, I’ll explain everything you need to know about the technology behind the device and share how it’s helped us greatly reduce injury-related pain.
Solio Alfa+ is an FDA-cleared pain relief device that uses red and infrared light combined with radio frequencies to relieve chronic pain and support recovery after sports injuries. Solio Alfa+ is the first pain relief device of its kind that is available to consumers outside of clinical settings.
- Effective at relieving pain.
- Uses a combination of three technologies to penetrate tissue at various depths.
- Increases blood flow to the treatment area.
- Relatively easy to use.
- Offers a two-year warranty and 60-day money-back guarantee.
- Each treatment is 20 minutes or longer.
- You might need the help of a partner to treat hard-to-reach areas.
- Requires “slider gel” (similar to an ultrasound machine).
In addition to telling you more about me and my wife’s experience with Solio Alfa+, I’ll also share how Solio is different from other pain relief devices we’ve used in the past, including PowerDot (an electric muscle stimulation device) and Theragun (a percussion massage gun).
Solio Alfa+ Review
Solio Alfa+ emits electromagnetic radiation in the form of radiofrequency (RF) and a combination of red, near infrared and far infrared light to increase oxygenated blood flow to the treatment area. This speeds up tissue healing and reduces inflammation, muscles aches, stiffness and pain.
In that regard, Solio Alfa+ is similar to other devices I’ve used in the past. The company behind Solio Alfa+ claims that the device can penetrate tissue deeper than most other devices (thanks to the combination of energy sources in the device), thus being more effective in speeding up the healing process and reducing pain in muscle tissue.
While I couldn’t assess the exact penetration depth during my tests because I don’t have the necessary equipment required to do so, thermal images from the company’s internal tests (see below) show that Solio Alfa+ can heat tissue up to 110 Fahrenheit at a depth of one inch.
Based on the treatment effects I’ve experienced during my tests, I consider Solio Alfa+ an excellent and drug-free pain relief option for those who suffer from sports injuries or chronic pain.
The Technology Behind Solio Alfa+
Solio Alfa+ uses a clever combination of electromagnetic radiation to increase blood circulation. This (safe) radiation draws oxygen and nutrients to the treatment area, thus speeding up the healing process and reducing pain.
Specifically, Solio Alfa+ uses a combination of the following technologies to penetrate tissue at various depths:
- Infrared (IR) radiation leveraging low-level laser therapy (LLLT). Penetrates 0.2 – 0.24 inches (5-6 mm).
- LED-based red light. Treats the skin only.
- Radiofrequency (RF): Penetrates deep (up to an inch) and produces heat.
The basic principle of using infrared light and radiofrequency for injury treatment is to carry energy into cell tissue, causing the tissue to heat up and resulting in increased blood flow to the treated area. This blood flow delivers oxygen and other nutrients to the tissue, thus enabling it to heal while reducing the perception of pain at the same time.
If you’ve ever used a heating blanket or a hot bath to treat a stiff neck or sore muscles, you know how well heat works to reduce pain and to speed up the healing process. However, the heat emitted from a pad or water doesn’t penetrate tissue very deeply. In contrast, infrared radiation and radiofrequency do, which is why the Solio Alfa+ is so effective at reducing pain and speeding up tissue healing.
Without diving too deep into the differences between various electromagnetic wavelengths and the technology necessary to produce them, it’s worth noting that there are certain features of the Solio Alfa+ that make it more effective than other consumer-grade light therapy devices for pain relief.
- Solio Alfa+ emits near infrared radiation using lasers instead of LEDs. That leads to a narrower (more focused) light beam, which allows the IR radiation to penetrate the tissue deeper.
- Solio Alfa+ also leverages bi-polar radiofrequency (RF), which also leads to deeper tissue penetration than the traditional RF devices you might be familiar with from cosmetic skin treatments.
Both of the above technologies enable Solio Alfa+ to penetrate tissue at a depth of one inch (2.54 cm), which is relatively deep for a non-invasive device.
In case you’re wondering, Solio Alfa+ can heat your tissue up to over 110 degrees Fahrenheit, based on tests the company conducted. The good news is that the device has a built-in temperature sensor that prevents your skin from burning.
Power, Wavelengths and Frequencies
The table below gives you a brief overview of the power, wavelengths and frequencies of the radiation emitted by Solio Alfa+.
|Near Infrared (LLLT)||90 mW||805-915 nm|
|Far Infrared||90 mW||3,000 nm and above|
|Red Light||50+ mW||620 nm|
|Radiofrequency||24 W||1 MHz|
Solio Alfa+ looks kind of like a computer mouse but with an adjustable strap that keeps the device securely attached to your hand while in use.
The top of Solio Alfa+ features a control button you can use to turn the device on or off, and to cycle between the three different treatment modes (see below). The three LEDs at the front of the device indicate which treatment mode is selected.
Additionally, there is a receptor for the power plug on the back of the device.
If you flip Solio Alfa+ over, you can see three rows of LEDs (24 in total); the four metal contact strips required for the bi-polar radiofrequency feature; and the temperature sensor in the middle.
While most of the device is made of plastic (with the exception of the bottom and the strap), it doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy and I wouldn’t expect it to fall apart, even if used on a daily basis — for example, if you suffer from chronic knee or back pain.
Note that Solio Alfa+ isn’t battery-operated, so you need to plug it into a nearby power outlet. We had to get an extension cord to use it while sitting on the couch because the power cable the device comes with wasn’t long enough to reach the floor outlet we have behind our sofa.
You can use Solio Alfa+ almost anywhere on your body, but the device is particularly useful for treating the following conditions:
- Injuries sustained from physical activity (sports injuries) or accidents (traumas).
- Chronic pain (knees, elbows, joints, lower back, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, etc.).
- Menstrual pain.
Since my experience is limited to using Solio Alfa+ for sports injuries, I can’t talk about the device’s effectiveness in reducing other types of pain.
Using the Solio Alfa+ is relatively straightforward. All you have to do is connect it to a power outlet, turn it on using the control button, select one of the treatment modes (see below), squeeze a small amount of glider gel onto the bottom of the device, and start gliding Solio Alfa+ over the affected area in a circular motion.
The treatment modes are set by number (#1, #2 and #3), and can be described as follows:
- Most types of pain/most body parts (three LEDs).
- Small areas like palms or ankles (two LEDs).
- Hot, swollen or inflamed areas (one LED).
For most parts of the body, you want to use program #1 because it generates the most heat and is thus most effective at relieving pain and speeding up wound healing.
Program #2 uses less energy and is meant for areas that don’t have a lot of soft tissue, like the palms of your hands and your ankles.
Program #3 is virtually useless as far as treating pain is concerned because in this program, Solio Alfa+ doesn’t emit energy to cause an increase in blood flow to the treated area. However, you can use program #3 to treat minor skin issues, such as scarring. Solio also recommends this program for areas of your body with swelling or inflammation, or if you have varicose (enlarged) veins. That’s because applying high heat to areas that are already inflamed can be counterproductive and actually slow down the healing process.
Once you start the treatment, you should see red light being emitted by the LEDs. You should also feel your skin heating up, depending on how fast you move the device.
I recommend moving it slowly back and forth, or in circles. If your skin starts getting uncomfortably hot, it’s an indication that you can move a tad faster. But don’t go too fast or you’ll dry out the glider gel too quickly.
Speaking of glider gel: the device won’t work without it because it’s required for conducting a current between the four contacts on the bottom of the Solio Alfa+. The slider gel Solio Alfa+ comes with is water-based, doesn’t stain and is safe to use. In other words, it’s very similar to the type of gel doctors use when conducting an ultrasound exam.
The recommended Solio Alfa+ treatment length is 20 minutes, because it takes seven minutes or longer to heat up the tissue to therapeutic temperatures before the actual treatment can start.
Depending on the type of injury you have, the company recommends using the device twice a day for the first 10 days before tapering off to using it once a day for up to 90 days. After that point, you can switch to using it only two or three times per week.
Of course, the actual length of your treatment depends on the type of pain or injury you have. An acute injury should heal up within six weeks or less. But if you suffer from chronic pain, you might end up using Solio Alfa+ for months or longer.
How We Use Solio Alfa+
Right before we got the Solio Alfa+, both my wife and I sustained injuries from intense CrossFit training.
While my wife was dealing with an upset trapezius (the muscle on the back between the spine and shoulder blade), I was dealing with a strained bicep attachment (where the bicep attaches to the shoulder).
Both of these injuries provided for an excellent opportunity to test the efficacy of the Solio Alfa+, but they also made us realize the only significant downside of the device: each treatment requires either the user’s active participation or a second person to assist.
In the case of my wife’s back injury, she had to rely on me to treat her because she couldn’t reach her trapezius by herself. So I had to assume the role of her physical therapist for 20 minutes every day.
Fortunately, I was able to treat myself. But I realized that I enjoy treating myself as much as I enjoy treating someone else (which is not at all).
That’s especially true after a long day of working out, blogging, playing with the dog and the kids, caring for our chickens and helping at home. In other words, I just want to sit on the couch and chill out.
But to be fair, neither of our injuries were debilitating enough for us to actively care for them, and just leaving the injured muscle groups alone for a few days (or weeks) would have fixed the problem. In other words, the incentive to spend time on treatment was relatively low.
As a result, we ended up using Solio Alfa+ only once a day for about 10 days, before we began using the device only sporadically.
Still, despite that less-than-ideal treatment regimen, Solio Alfa+ measurably reduced the level of pain we felt, and I don’t doubt that it also sped up the healing process.
Does Solio Alfa+ Work?
Based on both me and my wife’s experience with the Solio Alfa+, I’m convinced that the device is an effective, drug-free pain relief method — even when used less often than recommended. Just keep in mind that for best results, you need to commit 20-40 minutes per day for the treatment, and you might need someone to assist you.
One thing that’s important to understand is that the area where you feel pain might not be where the injury is, because pain can radiate. So if you’ve been treating an area with Solio Alfa+ for a few days and you don’t notice any improvement, start widening your treatment area. Chances are the issue you’re having might be rooted in the adjacent tissue and the pain you’re feeling is just radiating from there.
Pricing (Is Solio Alfa+ Worth It?)
As the only FDA-cleared home-use device that uses radiofrequency to treat pain on the market, Solio Alfa+ sells for $495. That’s certainly not cheap, but on the bright side, the company offers worldwide express shipping for free, a 60-day money-back guarantee and a two-year warranty.
So if you want to give Solio Alfa+ a try and for some reason it doesn’t work for you, you can return it within 60 days.
If you want to purchase the device directly from the company’s online store*, you can use code KUMMER to get $50 off your purchase. Alternatively, you can find it on Amazon for $525* (as of this writing).
Who Shouldn’t Use Solio Alfa+
Based on the information I received from the company, you should not use Solio Alfa+ if you’re pregnant or nursing.
You also shouldn’t use the device if you have…
- A history of skin cancer.
- Recently applied topical steroids at the treatment area.
- Received radiation therapy or chemotherapy treatments within the past three months.
- A pacemaker, heart arrhythmias or a heart disorder.
- Metal or silicone implants (you can use the device on body parts where there are no implants).
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Blood clotting disorders.
- Active herpes.
Additionally, don’t use Solio Alfa+ on open wounds, and don’t use it on your thyroid gland (located just below the Adam’s apple at the base of your neck).
Solio Alfa+ vs. Other Pain Relief Remedies
The Solio Alfa+ isn’t the only drug-free pain relief gadget we use at the Kummer household. In fact, we regularly use several other products and technologies, including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and concussion massage devices.
|Solio Alfa+||TENS||Percussion Therapy|
|Increases blood flow||★★★★★||☆☆☆☆☆||★★★★★|
|Good for sore muscles||★★★★☆||★★★★★||★★★★★|
|Good for injuries||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆|
I consider light therapy an excellent option for most types of pain, including joint and muscle pain. Considering that light therapy is completely non-invasive, it’s also great when you suffer from strained or torn muscles or tendons — injuries that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend treating with a percussion massage gun, unless you know what you’re doing.
TENS is meant to block the pain signal from reaching your brain but it doesn’t necessarily increase blood flow or speed up the healing process. However, I should mention that the PowerDot system we use supports not only TENS but also other electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) modes that do increase blood flow. So from that perspective, PowerDot and Solio Alfa+ offer somewhat similar treatment options.
However, with PowerDot (or any other EMS solution), you can’t control the flow of the electricity and so the exact treatment depth varies. The clear advantage of PowerDot is that it’s a passive device that doesn’t require interaction. In other words, you can attach the PowerDot electrodes to your skin and turn on the device while going about your business. That makes it much more likely that I’ll use it, compared to Solio Alfa+ or our percussion massage gun.
So there are pros and cons to each of these devices, and which one is best for you depends on the type of pain you’re dealing with and your personal preferences.
Solio Alfa+ Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Solio Alfa+ comes with one tub of glider gel. We ran out of it within two weeks or so because we used it too liberally and had to re-order some from Amazon*. If you are the only one using the device, the gel should last approximately a month.
No, you need the glider gel to allow the electrical current to flow between the four metal sensors on the bottom of the device.
Yes, you can use any conductive gels, including traditional ultrasound gels.
Yes, it is. I have fairly large hands and couldn’t fit my hand under the strap at first. After removing the rubber insert, I had more than enough space for my hand.
Not if you want to see results! It takes seven minutes or more for the device to get to its operating temperature and to start heating up your tissue. In other words, the device won’t be effective before that. To reap the maximum benefits you need to keep the tissue heated for several minutes (the longer, the better) which is why the company recommends treatment sessions of 15 to 20 minutes.
No, Solio Alfa+ is only FDA-cleared, not FDA-approved. That means the device is “substantially equivalent” to another similar legally-marketed device that has already been approved, but the FDA has not tested it.
The only side effects I’ve noticed during treatment sessions included redness of the skin due to the increased blood flow. Beyond that, I have not had or heard about other potential side effects.
Solio Alfa+ is made in Israel.
Solio Alfa+ Review: Wrap-Up
The Solio Alfa+ can be an excellent tool in your pain management arsenal if you’re committed enough to use it consistently. That can be an issue if you have a busy lifestyle and pain that’s manageable with minimal to no intervention.
Both my wife and I have found ourselves in a situation with injuries that didn’t bother us enough to warrant spending 40 minutes a day on treating them. The required time investment is really the only downside of Solio Alfa+.
However, if you suffer from debilitating pain that prevents you going about your normal life — perhaps resulting from a herniated disc or tennis elbow — you’d likely be more than willing to invest the time required to use Solio Alfa+ and significantly reduce your pain.
If you’re interested in Solio Alfa+ but have a question that I didn’t answer in my review, please leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
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Solio Alfa+ Review [An Effective and Dug-Free Pain Relief Option] is written by Michael Kummer for michaelkummer.com