What is Laser Therapy?
Laser Therapy, or “photobiomodulation”, is the use of specific wavelengths of light (red and near-infrared) to create therapeutic effects. These effects include accelerated tissue repair and healing, and reduction of pain and inflammation. Laser Therapy has been widely utilised in Europe by physical therapists, nurses and doctors as far back as the 1970s. After FDA clearance in 2002, Laser Therapy is being used extensively in the United States also.
Has effectiveness been demonstrated scientifically?
Yes. There are thousands of published studies demonstrating the clinical effectiveness of Laser Therapy. Among these, there are more than one hundred rigorously controlled, scientific studies that document the effectiveness of Laser Therapy for many clinical conditions.
Cellular Effects of Laser Therapy:
During Laser Therapy the infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level, and metabolic activity increases within the cell, improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This initiates the increased production of cellular energy (ATP) that leads to a cascade of beneficial effects, increasing cellular function and health.
Laser Therapeutic Effects:
During each painless treatment, laser energy increases circulation, drawing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain. As the injured area returns to normal, function is restored and pain is relieved.
What to Expect:
Only minimal restraint is required and there is no need for sedation. The experience is usually pleasant and comforting for the patient. Most pets do not need to have their hair clipped. Although improvement is often seen after the first visit, most patients require several treatments (3 to 8) for greatest benefit. For most conditions, we recommend a multi-visit treatment plan. Treatments vary in length, but most sites require 2 to 8 minutes of actual treatment time. A majority of patients exhibit greater comfort and mobility within 12 to 24 hours after a laser treatment.
Class IV Laser Therapy treatments are cumulative in nature. The length and frequency of treatments varies with your pet’s condition. A sample treatment schedule is as follows:
- Every other day for one week (3 total)
- Twice the second week (2 total)
- Once the third week (1 total)
- Then boosters as needed – sometimes monthly (chronic conditions) – but depends on individual case
Your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan specific to your pet’s condition
Numerous studies show that Laser Therapy can help with:
- Ligament Strains
- Tendon Strains
- Muscle Strains
- Edema and Congestion
- Hip Dysplasia
- Neck/Back Pain
- Post-Traumatic Injury
- Post-Surgical Pain
- Orthopaedic Surgical Recovery
- Puncture Wounds
- Chronic Wounds
Reintroduction to Activity
Laser Therapy can relieve pain, reduce swelling and increase range of motion. Often the patient will exhibit renewed energy and freedom of movement. Consult your veterinarian before your pet returns to full activity. A gradual introduction of activity may be suggested to ensure the patient does not aggravate the condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it hurt? What does treatment feel like? There is little or no sensation during treatment. Occasionally the patient feels mild, soothing warmth, or tingling. Areas of pain or inflammation may be sensitive briefly before pain reduction.
Are there any side effects or associated risks? During more than twenty years of use by healthcare providers all over the world, very few side effects have ever been reported. Occasionally some old injuries or pain syndromes may feel aggravated for a few days, as the healing response is more active after treatment.
How long does each treatment take? The typical treatment time is 3 to 8 minutes, depending on the size of the area being treated.
How often should a patient be treated? Acute conditions may be treated daily, particularly if they are accompanied by significant pain. More chronic problems respond better when treatments are received 2 to 3 times a week, tapering to once every week or two as improvement is seen.
How many treatments does it take? This depends on the nature of the condition being treated, and the response from the patient. For some acute conditions 1-2 treatments may be sufficient. Those of a more chronic nature may require 5 to 8 (or more) treatments. Some conditions may require ongoing periodic care to control pain.
How long before the results are felt? Your pet may demonstrate improvement in their condition (usually pain reduction) after the first treatment. Sometimes they will not feel improvement for a number of treatments. This does not mean that nothing is happening. Each treatment is cumulative and results are often felt after 3 or 4 sessions.
Can it be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment? Yes! Laser Therapy is often used with other forms of therapy, including physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, massage, soft tissue mobilisation, electrotherapy and following surgery. Other healing modalities are complementary and can be used with laser to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.