Cold Laser Therapy in Veterinary Medicine
Offering the area’s only FDA cleared cold laser therapy in veterinary practice.
Heal wounds faster and relieve various types of pain syndromes in pets. This new therapy gives Healing Springs an advantage in the treatment of various pain syndromes and in healing wounds. While cold laser therapy has many day to day applications, the most exciting aspect of this new therapy at Healing Springs is that it gives us opportunities to better resolve chronic problems such as lick granulomas that won’t fully heal and painful legs and backs that are still stiff even with constant meds. This therapy can improve healing after surgery and can improve the outcomes of orthopedic surgeries where bones need to heal to metal plates. Healing Springs can use cold laser therapy in the treatment of:
- Arthritis Pain1-3
- Wound Healing4-7
- Tendon Healing8-10
- Post-Surgical Wound Healing and Pain Control11-13
- Nerve Pain, Neurological Pain, Myofascial Pain, Muscle Pain, and Pain Sensitization14-19
- Infection Control (killing of yeast, fungi, bacteria)20,21
- Bone Healing / Adhesion of Metallic Implants to Bones22
- Chronic Autoimmune Thyroiditis – Hypothyroidism23
- Kidney Repair, Chronic Renal Failure, Renal Colic24
About the Treatments: In cold laser therapy treatments, your Healing Springs vets use a hand held emitter to direct far-infrared lasers at targeted areas (usually the area of pain or the wound itself). Pets can barely feel it. Depending on the state of the targeted tissue, a very slight tingling, heating, or cooling sensation may be felt. This is a result of the chemical reactions going on under the skin. The cold laser itself does not heat or cool. The laser is held over each area for a short period of time, usually less than three minutes. Costs will involve our normal exam fee plus treatment fee for the first visit. Subsequent visits may cost as little as $10 for short treatments. Positive results can often be seen after one to three sessions. For optimal results, many conditions should have six or more sessions spread over two or more weeks.
About Healing Springs: We have invested considerable time over more than a year learning about laser therapy in veterinary medicine to determine the best approach to use for our patients. Dr. Emily Falk in particular, has been receiving continuing education in therapeutic lasers as part of her canine rehabilitation studies at the University of Tennessee.
About Cold Laser Therapy: Cold laser therapy uses focused, monochromatic beams to push specific photons up to 5cm into soft tissues and bones. The photons cause a number of chemical changes on a cellular level, and these changes translate to an overall improved healing response in skin, muscles, tendons, nerves, bones, and even organs.25 Cold laser therapy may benefit any condition where a stimulated healing response in a targeted area less than 7cm deep would enhance clinical results. The applications and advantages in veterinary practice are broad. Cold laser therapy differentiates itself from many other light-based medical treatment devices in that the laser does not generate heat (thus the term “cold” laser). Patients may, however, feel a heating or cooling sensation. Thermal imaging studies have observed up or down temperature changes of 3 degrees C. These temperature changes are the consequence of cells producing products that cause healing reactions under the skin. The fact that the laser does not cause tissues to heat up is a huge advantage over infrared heating devices:
- Cold laser therapies cannot accidentally burn the patient.
- Cold laser therapies cannot be over-used. We can apply the laser as long as needed to achieve therapeutic effect.
- Cold laser therapies have fewer contraindications related to heat. For instance, heat based emitters may cause problems if used to heal wounds around metal implants (example: orthopedic surgery units such as pins, plates, and external fixators). Cold lasers can be used in the area of metal implants to enhance bone healing and the strength of the bond to pins and plates. In addition, cold laser therapy can be used on acute wounds, immediately after surgery, and over areas of inflammation – all areas where heat would be counterproductive.
About the cold laser medical device at Healing Springs: The medical device we have chosen for use at Healing Springs falls into two very broad categories: (1) cold lasers, and (2) the even broader category of low level laser therapy. For the academic types among us who want to understand how things work, it is very, very important to understand that different types of light and different types of lasers have differing effects in mammalian tissues. Just because two things call themselves lasers or even cold lasers, does not mean they will have the same effect. Many devices that call themselves lasers are not cold lasers at all. They are cleared through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as infrared heat lamps – FDA classification product code ILY. Our laser therapy device has been proven in two double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled studies specifically to have clinical effect, has proven clinical effect in the eyes of the FDA, and has been cleared under FDA classification product code NHN (“non-thermal instrument”).
Consistent clinical effect is determined by a number of specific aspects unique to various laser medical devices. These specific aspects include the types of diodes producing the light, the wavelength of the light, and the wattage of the laser. To understand the importance of these variables, consider this light analogy. If you study a light bulb, light from the sun, and a black light, you will find very different effects and uses for each, because of color, wavelength, and source. In laser therapy, studies find that the gallium aluminum arsenide diodes used by our device create greater wound healing effects than infrared diodes. Emerging research is also suggesting that lower wattage lasers may be better than high wattage lasers because they emit the photons more slowly over a longer lasting treatment, giving cells time to react, as opposed to blasting the cells with a much higher quantity of photons all at once.
Here are the specifications for the laser medical device in use at Healing Springs:
- Diodes: Three gallium aluminum arsenide laser diodes
- Light qualities: coherent, monochromatic, and polarized
- Wavelength: 830 nm
- Power: 30 mW
Different types of diodes and divergence from the wavelength profiles as small as 15 nm can cause variations in the therapeutic effects. Perhaps because some health care providers do not fully understand the importance of the laser specifications, when promoting their laser therapies, they create extravagant laundry lists of everything every laser can do. Here we have taken a disciplined approach to explaining our laser therapy. Every possible treatment application listed above has been verified by published research in which the researchers used a laser like the cold laser therapy at Healing Springs.
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