Laser therapy is a completely pain-free, non-invasive technique that uses various wavelengths of light to stimulate healing of the body. Laser therapy has been used for over 25 years and numerous scientific research publications support its efficacy. The lasers used therapeutically are known as "cold" or "low level" lasers as they do not heat the tissue or damage it; they are therefore very different from the lasers used surgically.
Therapeutic laser for stimulation of healing and relief of pain
Laser therapy is use of a laser directly on an area of pain or injury to relieve pain and stimulate healing. The light produced by a therapeutic laser penetrates the cells and has been shown to have the following effects:
Laser therapy is therefore appropriate for painful or uncomfortable conditions such as arthritis, hip/elbow dysplasia, spinal disc problems, dermatitis or non-healing wounds, as well as in a rehabilitation program to speed recovery after surgeries such as cruciate ligament (CCL) repairs.
Dr. Harris using laser therapy to treat a Doberman with a cruciate ligament injury
Laser therapy is a pain-free, non-invasive treatment that takes around 5-15 minutes per session, depending on the condition being treated. Like acupuncture, multiple laser treatments are required for optimum effect and maximal healing. Depending on the condition being treated, laser therapy is performed 1-3 times a week for 2-8 weeks.
Perhaps the most exciting development in laser therapy is the ability to use a laser to stimulate acupuncture points. This completely avoids the need to use needles, and guarantees that the experience will be completely pain-free. Some animals may experience a very slight tingling sensation, but most will feel only very gentle pressure from the laser tip on the skin.
Scientific research has shown that just as when needles are used to stimulate acupuncture points, there are measurable changes in the brain when a laser is used to stimulate acupuncture points. It has also been shown that when an acupuncture point is stimulated with a laser, light travels under the skin to places that are other acupuncture points, but not to places that are not acupuncture points. This suggests that light can pass along acupuncture channels and the body has a type of "fiber-optic network" that can be utilized to stimulate healing. Other studies have shown that laser acupuncture is as effective as needle acupuncture, for example when treating equine back pain. Since laser acupuncture cannot be felt, it is useful for research into acupuncture's effects as there is no placebo effect because research subjects cannot tell if the laser is operational or not.
When using a laser for acupuncture, each point is stimulated for around 5 seconds. When needles are used for acupuncture, they need to be kept in place for around 15 minutes, with the patient remaining relatively still during this time. This can obviously be an issue for more active patients, or those who are not used to restraint, such as cats. Use of a laser dramatically cuts treatment time as a complete treatment can be achieved within a few minutes with no need for the animal to remain still for a long period of time.
Another advantage of use of a laser for acupuncture is the ability to stimulate points where needles are not generally very well tolerated. For example, many dogs (and especially cats) do not like having their feet touched. Needle placement is also difficult here as there is not much soft tissue in which to place a needle. Laser stimulation of these points is quick and does not cause discomfort, enabling animals to receive a more complete treatment than would be possible with needles alone.