Veterinarian Kevin Fitzgerald has an article in the May/June issue of AKC Family Dog magazine titled “Kennel Concerns and Laser Therapy.” I selected the laser therapy segment because it concerns pain therapy and everyone is interested in alleviating pain in both themselves and their pets.
Low level laser therapy also is called cold laser therapy. It is a treatment that utilizes specific wavelengths of light to interact with tissue and is thought to help accelerate the healing process. It helps eliminate pain, swelling, reduce spasms and increases functionality.
I checked the Internet on how new this procedure is and also how effective it is and discovered that since 1967, more than 2,500 clinical studies, many of which were double-blinded, and placebo-controlled, have demonstrated cold laser therapy to be a proven method for pain relief. It also mentioned additional studies continue to be made to give specific guidelines for dosage and number of treatments needed. Still, even though the studies were conducted on humans, I believe the information is enlightening, especially since Dr. Fitzgerald wrote about the use of this therapy with arthritic dogs.
Cold lasers are handheld devices used by a doctor, therapist or technician. In humans, the device is placed directly over the injured area for 30 seconds to several minutes depending on the size of the area being treated and the dose provided by the cold laser unit.
I noticed in the picture accompanying Dr. Fitzgerald’s article, everyone, including the dog, is equipped with eye protection during the treatment. The device emits non-thermal light rays that pass through the skin layers, penetrating two to five centimeters below the skin.
On reaching the target area, it is absorbed and interacts with the light-sensitive elements in the affected cell. This can be compared to photosynthesis in plants, where sunlight is absorbed by plants then is converted to usable energy so the plant can grow.
Cold laser therapy can stimulate all cell types including muscle, ligament, cartilage, nerves, etc., resulting in normalizing damaged or injured tissue; providing a reduction in pain, inflammation, edema and an overall reduction in healing time by increasing intracellular metabolism.
In humans, the procedure has been used for arthritis pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia pain, knee pain, some neck pains and tendonitis. However, Dr. Fitzgerald concentrates on the use of the treatments for arthritis in dogs. It is a “painless, non-invasive procedure using light to stimulate cells, reduce swelling and increase blood circulation” according to Fitzgerald.
It takes only eight to 10 minutes for a small dog, or as much as 30 minutes for a larger dog with more severe arthritis. He maintains, “It is not a panacea, but another treatment that when used together with medication and physical therapy can ease the pain caused by arthritis.”
Information also obtained from http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-management/cold-laser-therap... “Cold Laser Therapy Pain Management Treatment” by Alexandra K. Schnee, D.C.