THERAPEUTIC LASER/ PHOTOBIOMODULATION THERAPY
What is laser therapy?
Therapeutic lasers produce light of a specific near-infrared wavelength to have biological effects at the cellular level. Therefore, a more appropriate term for this is, “photobiomodulation therapy.” Not all light and not all lasers produce the required wavelength for use as a therapy laser. The laser that Selkirk Animal Hospital utilizes is a Class IV therapy laser.
Why is photobiomodulation used?
- Reduces pain
- Reduces inflammation and swelling
- Accelerates healing
The specific wavelength of light causes release of natural pain-relievers like endorphins, suppresses pain receptors and reduces transmission of pain signals to the brain.
Laser therapy suppresses the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals, reduces prostaglandins and causes short-term dilation of blood vessels and lymphatics to improve swelling and lymphatic drainage.
Laser therapy increases the production of naturally occurring pro-healing chemicals, increases the development of new blood vessels which nourish the tissue and remove toxins, increases collagen and speeds wound contraction
What does laser therapy feel like?
Laser therapy feels like a combination of a massage and a warm bath. Pets generally enjoy their treatments and experience relaxation of muscles and often become more content throughout their treatment.
What types of conditions are laser therapy used for?
Most conditions with an element of pain or inflammation benefit from laser therapy. The severity and duration of the condition will determine the specific protocol that is prescribed by your veterinarian. Often laser therapy is prescribed as part of a multi-factorial approach including other forms of management as well. Some of the common uses for laser therapy include:
- generalized skin disease
- ear infections
- urinary pain (bladder or penis)
- gingivitis or dental extractions
- post-surgical pain
- soft tissue injury such as a sprain
- wounds/ burns
- fractured bones
- anal gland inflammation
- neck/ back pain
- gastrointestinal pain
- hot spots
- respiratory inflammation/ tracheal collapse
What is the safety of laser therapy?
Laser therapy is generally considered extremely safe. However, it is dangerous for laser light to contact the eye. Therefore, all people and animals in the room where laser therapy is being performed must have their eyes protected. Usually this involves special glasses that we provide or covering the pet’s eyes with a thick dark towel if they do not tolerate the goggles. Furthermore, laser cannot be used on a pregnant uterus or to treat a cancerous tumor. We also do not use it on an actively bleeding site until clotting is complete, or on areas that have just been injected with medication. We also avoid direct laser therapy of testicles, growth plates of the bones of growing patients and thyroid glands.
How often and how long does laser therapy take place?
The protocol for your pet will be determined by your veterinarian based on the specific condition your pet is experiencing and its duration. For example, a small skin wound may only need one or two treatments; arthritis patients will need ongoing therapy. For most chronic conditions, there will be an induction phase, transition phase and then a maintenance phase. This refers to the fact that more frequent treatments (eg; every 1 to 2 days) will be necessary initially, but gradually frequency of treatments will be reduced over time to find the lowest effective frequency to provide satisfactory relief for your pet. For example. In a patient with chronic arthritis, this might look like treatments every other day for 2 to 3 weeks, then twice per week for 2 weeks, then once per week for 2 weeks, then every 3 to 5 weeks long-term, depending on individual response to therapy.