A hot topic at our professional meetings and in the journals, laser therapy seems too good to be true. Lasers are claimed to do almost anything you want . . . speed healing, decrease inflammation, decrease pain, duplicate the benefits of massage and acupuncture, and do it within minutes.
I must admit we were skeptical at first. (“Snake oil,” one of my colleagues muttered.) But we were intrigued, so for the past six weeks we tested out various lasers at Riverbend. For no charge we treated as many of our clients’ animals as possible . . . post-op incisions, chronic ear infections, non-healing wounds, lick granulomas, arthritis, stomatitis, back pain, neck pain, as well as animals recovering from ACL repairs, repairs of patellar luxations and femoral head excisions. We treated cats, Chihuahuas, Mastiffs, young and ancient animals.
And we were impressed by the results. While it did not produce miracles (the paralyzed did not suddenly walk nor the blind see), we did, without fail, see beneficial effects. We are now believers, so much so that we bought a Class IV laser, got further training, and are now offering laser therapy at our hospital.
Here’s a little background on how it works. Lasers emit light of specific wavelengths that can be utilized by cells. The light enters the mitochondria within cells, stimulating the production of ATP. ATP is the fundamental energy source for cells. Cells that are injured, diseased or otherwise impaired do not make ATP efficiently. Stimulating ATP production increases the vitality of the cells. Cells become healthier faster, inflammation is decreased, pain is resolved, and wounds heal.
Most laser treatments take under five minutes; those with multiple sites may take a bit longer. Treatment is delivered via a non-invasive hand piece that is pressed into the area to be treated for a specified amount of time. No fur needs to be clipped, and there’s no danger of skin burns; one needs only to protect the eyes with special goggles (for patients as well as humans).
All told, we are very excited by the potential benefits of laser therapy. It is not hocus-pocus medicine . . . it is the real deal. And the special goggles your pet gets to wear during treatment are very cool.