Cold Laser Therapy: How Does It Help?
Not many people know that there is a safe, drug-free, and noninvasive way to speed up healing, give pain relief, and boost the quality of life of our pets. Cold laser therapy uses specific wavelengths of light to speed up the body’s natural healing process. Photons safely penetrate deep into the tissues to stimulate enzyme production and increase the metabolic rate of cells providing energy the cells need to heal and repair tissue. Think of it like your morning coffee to give you a jump start for the day.
Cold laser increases blood circulation through vasodilation and the formation of new capillaries in the tissues, which brings more oxygen and nutrients to the areas being treated to further promote healing. It has an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect, which means it helps to decrease swelling and pain in the area being treated, therefore making your fur baby more comfortable. This can also help reduce—or even eliminate—the need for pain medicines that can be harsh on the liver or kidneys, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or steroids.
Benefits of Laser Therapy
Faster wound healing, tissue repair, & cell growth. Photons stimulate fibroblasts to increase collagen, an essential protein needed for tissue growth, repair, and remodeling. It also stimulates chondroblasts to help grow cartilage. This also leads to reduced scar tissue formation.
Pain relief. Blocks pain sent by the nerve cells to the brain. The decrease in inflammation and edema also leads to decreased pain. Increases the production of endorphins which are pain-killing chemicals.
Anti-inflammatory. Increased blood flow leads to lymphatic drainage, and therefore pushes fluid into lymphatic vessels and decreases edema and swelling within those tissues and joints.
Improved nerve function. Nerve damage can cause pain, numbness, and tingling. Nerves usually take longer to repair themselves than other tissue and cold laser helps speed up nerve cell reconnection therefore more effective muscle healing.
Results can be seen as quickly as one treatment; however, most conditions need 6 to 10 treatments. For chronic conditions the first several week's treatments are 2 to 3 times weekly, then can work up to maintenance treatment every 2 to 6 weeks depending on the condition and the patient.
Common Conditions for Laser Therapy
- Arthritis/pain management
- Intervertebral disk disease (acute or chronic) – helps by decreasing pain, swelling, muscle spasms, and stiffness
- Post-operative pain; especially useful after orthopedic surgeries, such as ACL surgeries, in which it helps to reduce post-operative swelling and pain, and to help regain the use of the limb faster
- Wound healing
- Thermal burns
- Feline lower urinary tract disease
- Lick granulomas
- Ear infections
Lily—A Patient Case
Lily is an eight-week-old pit bull puppy that was presented to us after the breeder gave her subcutaneous fluids with tap water. She developed a severe infection under the skin, which caused her skin to slough off along her neck and shoulder.
Lily needed a skin graft; however, due to minimal resources, another way to help her had to be found. She was placed on antibiotics for the infection and was started on cold laser therapy and wet-to-dry bandaging. This not only helped her with the pain but also allowed her wounds to heal quickly within several weeks. Lily was left with some skin tension and scarring.
At this point, the wound had healed enough for surgery to be performed to remove the remaining scar tissue, which was causing tension and discomfort. Cold laser therapy was continued after surgery and, within 2 more weeks, she was fully healed with only a minimal scar.
Lily had a rough start—and has the scar to prove it. But she is now a happy girl who found a loving forever home.