LASER Therapy for Animals
What is it?
The name LASER is formed from an acronym. Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation is the full nomenclature. It is a very pure and powerful form of light energy, of a single wavelength. One of its major properties is ‘coherency’. Since this property is lost, as the beam crosses the skin, the term LASER cannot properly be applied to anything other than superficial treatments. For this reason, the term Low Energy Photon Therapy (LEPT) has been coined for treatment of deeper tissues. The machine used is termed a ‘cold LASER’. Different colours can be used in veterinary medicine, according to the application. The most common are infra-red, at about 800 nm or greater wavelength and red, at about 610 – 800 nm. Each provides its own particular form of concentrated energy input to the body, to act as a stimulus to healing processes.
The AVMC has been using ‘cold LASER therapy’ (Low Level Laser Therapy or LLLT) on animals for over 30 years, gaining experience and confidence in its many applications. We have regularly updated our machinery, in view of technological developments, now using a more powerful and compact machine than could ever have been envisaged 30 years ago, which has extended our capabilities to help healing.
N.B.: This is not surgical LASER. The AVMC does not perform LASER surgery.
Veterinary LASER therapy can be used to stimulate and improve the healing of open wounds, ulcers and injuries to soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, muscles and periosteum. Even wounds and ulcers where there is significant skin deficit have also responded well. A field of application that has proved particularly valuable is in the treatment of cruciate ligament injury in the dog (anterior cruciate ligament – cranial cruciate ligament) and tendon or suspensory injury in the horse. It can act as an alternative to surgery in many cases.
Image shows the red light probe of our LASER machine. We use this for superficial wounds or treatments. We also use an infra-red probe for deeper conditions.
The responses in such conditions, against expectations, have long made me believe (since before 2000) that LASER stimulation may be stimulating the activity of stem cells. Modern research is tending to bear out that hypothesis* so it may be. It may therefore be that LASER Therapy is a ‘cross-over’ treatment that incorporates a measure of stem cell therapy.
Stem cell technology is leaping forward at the end of the first decade of the new millennium but it is not without its risks (not least the need for general anaesthesia at least twice), it can be painful and it comes at vast expense.
LASER treatment shares none of the risks associated with stem cell therapy, requires no anaesthesia, is painless and costs very little by comparison.
Another condition in which Laser Therapy can often avoid the need for surgery is that of ‘lick granuloma’ in dogs.
It is often also used to help treat back problems and back injuries, in conjunction with chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture.
Indications: back injury, ligament injury, tendon injury, muscle injury, joint injury, arthritis, disc disease, paralysis, wounds, non-healing wounds, ulcers, lick granuloma, as part of a coordinated integrative therapeutic programme (integrated medicine).
The ideal wavelength can vary according to the tissue, the region of the body and even between different patients.
The frequency which is applied (the LASER emission can be ‘pulsed’) must also be suited to the patient and to the treatment context. If the wrong frequency is used, this can disrupt the energy balance of the body, in much the same way as an individual player could disrupt an orchestra by playing out of tune. If the correct frequency is applied, it is equivalent to good musical harmonics, in which the sound seems to swell and take on new properties, transcending the sum of its components. There are manuals, which lay down supposed ideal frequencies and wavelengths for different applications. In our opinion this approach is not valid and can represent a negative effect on healing, if the incorrect frequency is used on a patient. At the AVMC, we use energy-testing to ascertain the optimum frequency and wavelength for each patient.
LASER may also be used to stimulate acupuncture points (Acupuncture-by-LASER). The same frequency and wavelength principles apply. This method of stimulation is non-painful and can suit some patients better than needling. There is, however, a clear sensation when appropriate points are stimulated (we know from personal experience). In general, we find needling the better option, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule.
One very memorable case was a Boxer bitch who could not tolerate needles, yet responded beautifully to LASER. It was not that needling was painful or rejected by the dog. She accepted the needles well. It was in the response to treatment that the difference was obvious. She worsened with needles, on each occasion but improved dramatically in response to LASER. The individuality of the patient is a vital consideration in all natural medicine applications and should never be over-ridden by ‘routine’ methodology.
Conditions in which clients have reported great benefit include: wound healing, ulcers, burns, wounds, cruciate ligament injury, sprain, strain, shoulder lameness, arthritis, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, lick granuloma, headshaking (head shaking), back pain, back injury, disc disease.
N.B.: There is danger of eye damage, particularly with the invisible wavelengths (infra-red), so avoid any chance of the beam entering the practitioner’s, handler’s or patient’s eye, either directly or by reflection. There are protective glasses, which can avert this risk.
N.B.: Applying LASER at the wrong frequency for the patient will result in disruptive effects, rather than healing benefit. It is therefore vital to ‘energy test’ the frequency for each patient, prior to treatment.
The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (other than your own) with LASER, by anyone other than a fully qualified vet, unless by direct referral from and supervision by your vet.