Therapeutic Laser therapy has emerged in recent years as an addition to pain control protocols, aide in the healing process, and frequently used in wound care. Classic peer reviewed research has been slow to emerge though, in spite of the fact that many practicioners have reported the empirical benefits of laser therapy. To those of us seeing patients day to day, that means that we have lot of information being shared among veterinarians as to the benefits to laser therapy, but the research that allows a therapy to become mainstream is still in the works.
What the data does suggest is that laser therapy can be a good addition to other protocols used to mitigate arthritis. We believe that the laser dilates blood vessels, which helps remove inflammatory components known to cause pain. In short, without using a drug that has to be metabolized, the laser give the patient gets relief from their arthritis, at least partially. That same effect would bring blood supply to a muscle that had formed a knot, or trigger point, allowing it to release and give the patient relief. We believe that lasers that have a lower wavelength penetrate deeper into the tissues.
Lasers that have a higher frequency of wavelength have shown benefits in topical healing wound. Increasing the blood supply to a wound certainly helps to get the wound to heal faster, but there is also evidence that laser therapy can reduce the number of bacteria present on a wound. This helps us immensely when we have an infected wound that we can’t seem to get on top of with antibiotics. While there is less supporting evidence, many veterinarians are using laser therapy in other diseases that may benefit from increased blood supply such as healing of fractured bones or even improvement of blood supply to failing kidneys.
This is an area of veterinary medicine that will clearly require more research to more fully understand the capabilities of the technique, but for now, we have a marked improvement in our patients.