Laser Therapy in Veterinary Medicine – Dr. LeeAnn DuMars, ABVP
Laser therapy is a treatment that works to provide pain relief, decrease inflammation and speed healing in a drug-free manner. The beneficial effects of laser light on tissue were first recognized almost forty years ago. Recent advances in technology have made this modality available for veterinary use on our patients. This type of laser is called a “cold laser” or therapeutic laser – not to be confused with the more powerful surgical lasers that are used for cutting. The therapeutic laser light is delivered through a non-invasive wand to treat the affected area. Pets are not sedated and hair does not need to be clipped. The pet feels a gentle and soothing warmth as the wand is gently rubbed over problem areas. As the laser is administered, many pets relax and rest quietly – it feels much like a good massage!
Laser therapy works by sending photons, or packets of light energy, deep into tissue without damaging it. These photons are absorbed within the mitochondria of the cell (the cell’s powerhouse), and induce a chemical change called “photo-bio-modulation”. This light energy then inspires production of ATP in the cell. ATP is the fuel that cells use to repair and rejuvenate tissues. Increased ATP production leads to healthier cells, healthier tissues and healing.
We have used the laser for treating many painful conditions – from osteoarthritis, inflammations, soft tissue sprains/strains, hip dysplasia, intervertebral disk disease, degenerative joint disease, wounds, infections, chronic lick granulomas of the skin, to pain relief for any chronic condition. We routinely use it as a post-surgical treatment when finishing up on surgeries; to lessen pain and stimulate healing. The only contraindication to laser use is not to be used with cancer, as there is concern that we could speed up abnormal growth of cells. There are even recent reports in the literature about using laser therapy for painful swollen ears in dogs – something that we have not used it for yet but are anxious to try! We see many dogs with ear infections and they are typically swollen and painful and laser therapy would be a nice compliment to the medications and ear flushing regimen.
The beauty of laser is the non-invasiveness and the no known side-effects. Treatments take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on the number of sites needing to be treated. For instance, in older dogs with multiple areas of arthritic joints, we will treat each joint area for several minutes. Other times, treatment for a single skin wound or lick granuloma might take 5-10 minutes. The laser operator and the pet both wear dark goggles to prevent excessive light to the eyes. Depending on the treatment needed, we will schedule a plan for laser – usually treatments are once daily for 3 days, then decreasing to a maintenance level of 2-3 times weekly for a month. Many owners will notice relief of their pet’s symptoms initially, others may take another week or so.
To see more laser in action, please visit the Companion Laser website for more information, to watch videos and see how we can help make our dogs and cats more comfortable! The website is www.litecure.com Please call us to schedule a free trial of laser for your pet to see for yourself how this modality may make your pet pain free!