I was personally introduced to laser therapy several years ago after a knee surgery. I had begun an exercise program on my own that proved to be too soon and too vigorous, and which caused the knee to swell dramatically and become very painful. I subsequently began a rehab stint at a facility that used laser therapy as part of its post-op regimen.
I noticed an improvement in the swelling right away, and the pain was remarkably reduced after the first therapy session. I knew right then that I would eventually incorporate laser therapeutics in the treatment of my own patients, and that time has come.
There are two types of laser emissions; continuous and pulsed. Continuous emissions act fast to fight inflammation, stimulate blood and lymphatic circulation, and induce rapid re-absorption of fluids; but they only have a secondary effect on pain.
Pulsed Laser emissions, on the other hand, have an immediate effect on pain because they interfere with the very transmission of pain impulses to the brain. They’re less effective at treating inflammation and edema though. The laser equipment now available combines and synchronizes continuous and pulsed emissions to capitalize on the benefits of each.
Therapeutic laser is used by veterinarians to treat a wide range of inflammatory conditions – virtually anything that ends in “itis”. We treat chronically infected and painful ears, urinary bladders, wounds, skin lesions, muscle or tendon strains, arthritis involving any joint, post-operative incisions, and painful spinal bone spurs.
Our most rewarding cases often involve patients with debilitating hip dysplasia, chronic musculo/tendon disorders, or a spinal condition called spondylosis deformans. These patients are often dogs or cats that are in good condition otherwise, but suffer from chronic pain that severely diminishes their quality of life. These cases are the chief reason that I invested in this advanced technology – it is so very heartbreaking to see these wonderful pets suffer so, and to have their lives end prematurely because of never-ending pain. Now, with laser therapy and stem cell regenerative medicine, along with exercise and rehab regimens, we’re able to bring these deserving pets back to a more normal life; able to walk and run, climb stairs, and even hop in and out of cars.
Figure 1 Ripley suffered for months with an inflammatory disorder of the iliopsoas and pectineal muscles. She was prevented from herding - her biggest love in life - but her pain even made walking in the back yard difficult. While surgery is often the ultimate therapy for this severe, chronic problem, Ripley has improved a great deal; continued therapy may very well make surgery unnecessary. Note the COOL SHADES on Ripley!
We’ve designed specific treatment plans, depending on the site of inflammation. Chronic ear infections, for example, are helped immensely after just one or two sessions with the laser. Once the terrific inflammation is controlled, medications are able to wipe out causative organisms and bring around a cure. Chronic arthritis such as hip dysplasia or spondylosis requires a package of sessions that begin with six treatments to bring the pain under control, followed by single sessions once per two to four weeks.
We prescribe four to six sessions after major knee surgery to diminish pain, reduce swelling, and speed the healing process.
The laser usually allows us to taper or even eliminate NSAID administration in patients, reducing or eliminating the threat of liver damage from these medications.
All in all, this is one of the greatest investments I’ve made in veterinary medicine, from the standpoint of the satisfaction I derive from helping these patients when nothing else really does.
Dr. Mapes practices medicine at the Stonebridge Animal Hospital.
5913 Virginia Parkway, Suite 100
McKinney, Tx 75071