No one wants to see their pet in pain, and while there are plenty of pain medications available for animals, these come with their own set of risks and side effects. Pain medications do help the animal feel more comfortable, but they don’t generally promote healing on their own. That’s why laser therapy is such a promising alternative for many pets suffering from pain.
involves directing a beam of light at the area being treated. This technique allows vets to use low-intensity lasers to relieve anything from transient post-operative pain to the chronic pain associated with arthritis. The procedure itself is painless, and generally animals do not have to be sedated to go through it, which eliminates both the risks associated with anesthesia and means that the animal can receive the therapy more often. Laser therapy also does much of the job of regular pain medications by actively relieving pain, while also promoting healing.
All of this is possible because the lasers used, stimulate cell growth while also reducing inflammation. This combination is especially effective at accelerating the repair of tissues damaged during surgery or through injury. In addition, the anti-inflammatory action reduces pain between treatments, and that combined with a faster overall healing time makes it possible to reduce the use of conventional pain medication and the risks associated with it.
Another way laser therapy works to improve outcomes is by promoting improved vascular activity, which helps maximize blood flow to all affected tissues. It increases metabolic activity in the targeted tissues as well, and it reduces the amount of fibrous tissue that forms as a wound heals. The less fibrous tissue, or scar tissue, left behind, the greater the long-term post-operative range of motion.
Laser therapy can also be used on nerve and muscle injuries that don’t involve incisions or lacerations. It has been found to greatly improve nerve function in areas damaged by an injury, and it can even be used as therapy to stimulate trigger points and acupuncture points without physically penetrating the skin and other tissues. And laser therapy works directly to accelerate wound healing by stimulating certain types of cells called fibroblasts, which are responsible for making collagen, an essential part of the healing process.
Laser therapy is often a good option for animals with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions including sinusitis and rhinitis, hot spots, ear problems, anal gland inflammation, and more. It can also improve the condition of pets suffering from intervertebral disc disease.
All of these benefits that laser therapy provides come with little to no downside. Unlike conventional pain medications, laser therapy relieves pain without side effects. And at the same time, it promotes healing and a whole host of healthy activity within the animal’s tissue. This is a great addition to the veterinarian’s arsenal of tools for improving outcomes and an excellent option to consider if your pet suffers from any of the conditions laser therapy can be used to treat. But to know for sure whether your pet is a good candidate for this type of therapy, it’s best to talk to your vet to learn more.
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.