laser therapy

Laser therapy; how does it work?

laser therapy

What is laser therapy?

Laser therapy sounds like it could be something from a Sci Fi movie, although it’s not.

This therapy, also known as cold laser therapy, is a medical treatment that uses focused light tuned to specific wavelengths, causing a physiological change at the cellular level. Laser is an acronym;  light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Some are “hot”, strong enough to do surgery, while others, like what I’m discussing, are cold lasers. You might also hear this therapy called LLLT (low level light therapy) or red light therapy, but they all refer to the same type of treatment.

What are the benefits of laser therapy?

– Pain management

– Wound healing

– Improving nerve function

– Osteoarthritis

– Healing infection

These are the more common uses, although other uses are becoming popular as the method is explored. NOTE: you should check with your vet to make sure it’s safe for your pet’s condition.

 

Using a laser

Basically, a treatment session involves holding the device, on the appropriate settings, over the problem area for 1-5 minutes.  It causes NO discomfort to your pet. Whoever is in the immediate area should wear eye protection since the light can be hard on the eyes. Depending on the condition, location, etc., treatments might be done a couple times a week for a couple weeks. For more complicated or longer term problems more frequent treatments for longer periods of time might be helpful. Your vet can help you determine a plan.

How do you get access to a good device?

You have lots of options for finding a device that will work.

– You can buy online. An investment of $2,000 – $3,500 should get a decent laser that is rated well by its buyers. You can find them for less, but may not get the results you’re hoping for. You don’t have to have a vet involved to order one of these.

– Depending on the condition, you can get your vet to write a prescription allowing you to get a higher powered laser.  These can run $5,000 up to $20,000 or more. You might not need a laser of this caliber, but if you use it on many animals or have higher level needs, the investment can be worth it.

– Many vet clinics offer treatments on a session by session basis. The investment isn’t nearly as large, but you have to go back to the vet each time a session is needed. They might also rent the device for a period of time for home use.

My experience

Our choice was an Erchonia XLR8, a mid-level device. It’s been easy to use and we’re absolutely LOVING it so far. One of our dogs has hip dysplasia, another dog has juvenile arthritis, and one of the horse has chronic low back issues.  Each one is treated least 2x/week, having much less pain and seeming much happier.

Read my post Pain! How can we help our rescue dog?  for more on our experience treating pain in our dogs.

Is laser therapy right for your pets?

The answer is probably so. Depending on the issues your pet is having, this treatment method has been showing some really great results. Whether you want to use it on cats, dogs, horses, or all three species, you can find studies that support the use of laser therapy for  many conditions. And since using one of these devices doesn’t always require purchasing it, you can easily access it without a large investment.

For dog conditions, read Laser therapy for dogs
If you have horses, read this one Laser therapy in equine practice
And for cats; Laser therapy for cats

 

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