Managing Pain Through the Science of Laser Technology
Also known as cold laser therapy, low-level laser therapy is a form of phototherapy used to stimulate tissue repair and provide pain management. It is a noninvasive treatment using a focused red and infrared light to stimulate tissue at and below the surface of your pet’s skin.
The biochemical effect of this low-level light will:
- Increase production of cellular energy—Cells manage a wide range of functions in their tiny package (growing, moving, housekeeping, and so on) and most of those functions require energy. Cells seek their energy in the form of food molecules or sunlight; this is why laser therapy aids in cellular energy.
- Promote cellular regeneration—Regeneration in biology mainly refers to the morphogenic processes that characterize the phenotypic plasticity of traits allowing multicellular organisms to repair and maintain the integrity of their physiological and morphological states.
- Increase production of collagen—Collagen is a unique protein and the building material to renew cells in all areas of the body, including the hair, skin, nails, eyes, teeth, cartilage, bones, tendons, organs, arteries, blood vessels, hemoglobin, immune cells, and the immune system. Collagen is responsible for 80% of all connective tissue and 75% of the skin.
- Vascular dilation—Also called vasodilation, increases blood flow in the body to tissues that need it most. This is often in response to a localized need of oxygen but can occur when the tissue in question is not receiving enough glucose, lipids, or other nutrients. Localized tissues use multiple ways to increase blood flow, including releasing vasodilators, primarily adenosine, into the local interstitial fluid, which diffuses to capillary beds, provoking local vasodilation.
- Encourages production of the body’s natural pain relievers—With your pet’s own natural pain relievers increasing, his or her body will begin focusing on cellular repair to feel much better.
The History of Laser Therapy
The first low-level laser was developed in 1960, and early testing showed an increase in the speed and overall success of the healing process when it was used. Originally used for wound repair, clinical trials done throughout the 1970s showed the applicability of the low-level laser in therapy to be more widespread than previously thought. The 1990s came with the invention of more powerful and effective versions of the cold laser, eventually increasing its popularity in the field of rehabilitation.
Pets experience pain just like humans do, and we recommend taking steps to identify, prevent, and minimize pain in all dogs and cats. We use pain assessment as the fourth vital sign (along with temperature, pulse, and respiration).
The different types of pain include:
- Acute pain—Pain that comes on suddenly as a result of:
- Chronic pain—Pain that is long lasting and usually develops slowly (such as arthritis)
You can play a key role in monitoring your pet to determine whether he or she suffers from pain. Be sure to monitor behavior and physical conditions. Visit our emergency care page for more information.
Possible signs of pain:
- Decrease in appetite or failure to eat for more than two days
- Change in housebreaking
- Inactivity or increase in amount of time spent sleeping
- Excessive panting/breathing heavily while at rest
- Change in behavior/personality/does not want to be touched
Cold Laser Therapy to Heal Wounds
Below is an example of how cold laser therapy helps heal wounds. The first photo is from 4/25/2015. A rescued K9 named Doolie, had a degloving wound to paw. The second photo is from 5/7/2015 after starting antibiotics, bandaging and laser therapy treatments. The 5/7/2015 photo was taken after only 3 laser treatments, 12 days after his first visit. Doolie's last (13th) treatment was in mid-June and the final photo was taken in July. The dramatic healing process took a total of less than 3 months after his initial injury.
Doolie before Laser Therapy treatments.
Doolie after only three treatments.
After one month and 7 laser treatments.
After the last treatment and hair had regrown somewhat.