At Willamette Veterinary Hospital, we are committed to treating illness and injury not only with traditional surgery and medicine, but with adjunct therapies that alleviate pain and help our patients heal and return to function faster. In some cases, this includes the use of a Class IV therapeutic laser. The three of the main effects of laser therapy are to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and increase microcirculation. Laser therapy works by utilizing a process called “photobiomodulation.” Photobiomodulation is the application of electromagnetic radiation using the red and infrared light spectrum over injuries and wounds, to stimulate healing and pain relief within those tissues at a cellular level by inhibiting synthesis and secretion of inflammatory prostaglandins, while stimulating those that have vasodilating and anti-inflammatory actions.
Treatment recommendations for therapeutic laser depend on the type of condition the patient has. For acute pain, one treatment daily or every other day for 1–4 treatments. For chronic conditions and deep pain, once a day or every other day treatment for the first week is recommended, followed by a transitional phase where the patient has treatment 2–3 times a week until the therapeutic goal has been achieved. Once we see treatment success, chronic patients continue with laser therapy as often as needed to control pain and maintain satisfactory progress. For example, in cases of chronic osteoarthritis of the hips, a common treatment plan begins with treatments 2–3 times a week for 2–4 weeks, then 1 x a week for 2–4 weeks, then every other week, then once every 4–6 weeks.
Conditions in which laser therapy can be helpful include, but are not limited to the following: Surgical incision healing, post-operative pain management, soft tissue injuries, trauma, Osteoarthritis, back pain / intervertebral disc disease, lick granulomas, fractures, and other inflammatory conditions.
If your pet has a painful or inflammatory condition, ask your vet if adding laser therapy might help!