About Laser Therapy
Laser therapy has become increasing popular among veterinarians in the past few years for use in wound and tissue healing, pain management, anti-inflammatory control, and much more. There are multiple types of laser therapy, each targeting a specific area of treatment. In this article, we will be discussing “cold” laser therapy, or “Cryotherapy.”
What is Cold Laser Therapy?
Originally, lasers were first used to cut or seal tissue during surgery. The lasers that are used for this treatment are often “hot” or higher-level lasers. Recently however, cold or low-level lasers have started being used as a therapeutic tool.
Laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” When a laser is used, electromagnetic energy is focused into intense beam of light, intended to stimulate tissue and cells.
There are four different categories of lasers which distinguish the strength of a laser based on its power output. For example, Class I-IIIa lasers include supermarket scanners, remote controls, and laser pointers. These are considered safe, while Class IIIb lasers can potentially pose the risk of eye injury and safety protection is encouraged. Any laser with a power output of 500 milliwatts (mW) or more is considered hazardous. Fortunately, all low-level lasers have a power output of less than 500 mW.
How does Cold Laser Therapy work?
Lasers rely on photobiomodulation to cause change to cells and tissues. Photobiomodulation, simply put, is the application of intense light with the goal of modifying cells or tissues. Healing is caused when the light enters the mitochondria of the cell and triggers beneficial modifications. Therapeutic lasers can stimulate tissues, causing advanced wound healing and pain relief. Lasers are gaining recognition for their benefits with helping dogs in rehabilitation as well.(1)
What can Cold Laser Therapy help with?
Cold laser therapy can be used to treat a variety of acute and chronic injuries, including the following:
- Acupuncture Points
Laser beams can be used to trigger traditional Chinese acupuncture points, either used solely or in conjunction with acupuncture needles.
- Anti-Inflammatory Relief
The use of cold laser therapy causes blood vessels to dilate (vasodilation), as well as activating the drainage process of the lymphatic system.
- Musculoskeletal System
Cold laser therapy can aid the healing of sprains, strains, fractures, and chronic musculoskeletal issues.
- Neurological System
Nerve injuries and spinal cord lesions can be healed with cold laser therapy. It can also improve nerve function and accelerate regrowth.
- Pain Management
Cold laser therapy can be extremely beneficial in reducing both acute and chronic pain.( 2)
- Tissue Healing
Acceleration of cellular reproduction and growth can be brought on by cold laser therapy. It can also reduce tissue inflammation.
- Wound Healing
The use of laser therapy induces cellular growth, causing your dog’s body to heal more rapidly. It also helps to produce new blood vessels, activate collagen, a required protein for tissue development, and DNA synthesis.
How can my dog receive cold laser therapy?
More and more veterinary clinics are offering cold laser therapy services to clients. Call your veterinarian and ask if they provide this technique. If you have any questions about cold laser therapy, ask me!
About Dr. Deborah Shores
Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida.
Kirkby, Kristin. Therapeutic Lasers in Veterinary Medicine. ACVIM Proceedings. 2012.
Van Dyke, Janet. Introduction to Physical Modalities in Rehabilitation. WSAVA/FECAVA/BSAVA World Congress Proceedings. 2012.