We are pleased to announce the addition of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), also known as ‘cold laser therapy’ to our pain management treatment options. Alex Sunarich, BSc, DVM, veterinarian, owner and operator of Orchard Grove Animal Clinic, in north Toronto, spent several years researching the scientific evidence supporting the use of various types of laser treatment options for the treatment of chronic pain and inflammation before finally deciding to add the FDA cleared Microlight ML830 Class IIIb cold laser unit to his practice.
“I see a large number of middle aged and older dogs and cats who experience a lot of chronic pain from arthritis” says Dr Alex. “In addition to arthritis, there are many other chronically painful conditions such as tendonitis and back pain which can be relieved with cold laser treatments.”
So what exactly is LLLT and how does it work? LLLT is a painless, sterile, non-invasive and drug free treatment which is used to treat a variety of pain syndromes, injuries, wounds, fractures and some neurological conditions. This therapy can be used whenever a pet requires a drug free treatment for the control of pain, when conventional therapies have been ineffective, or when the acceleration of healing from injuries or surgery is desired. Low level lasers supply energy to the body in the form of non-thermal photons of light at a single uniform wavelength. These photons, at the 830nm wavelength, pass through the skin and penetrate up to 5 cm into the underlying tissues. There, they induce the following:
1. biostimulation, including improved and increased cellular metabolism;
2. improved circulation which helped to deliver oxygen and remove waste products;
3. analgesia, or decreased pain sensation;
4. anti-inflammatory effects and reduction of swelling;
5. stimulation of wound healing.
Through these physiologic mechanisms at the cellular and local level, cold laser therapy can relieve acute and chronic pain; increase the speed, quality and tensile strength of tissue repair; increase the blood supply; stimulate the immune system; stimulate nerve function; develop collagen and muscle tissue; help to generate new and healthy cells; promote faster wound healing and reduce inflammation.
So, what does LLLT involve? After an initial evaluation with the veterinarian, which includes a thorough history, physical examination, and possible xrays or other imaging, a diagnosis is made and a treatment plan can then be formulated. In general, for most chronic conditions, a course of 6 treatment sessions is usually prescribed, consisting of every other day visits for treatment over a period of 2 weeks (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Each treatment session typically lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the nature of the condition. For acute conditions, a more condensed, possibly daily protocol may be used. Treatments are performed by our trained support staff. Pets seem to enjoy and relax into the treatment, which is usually performed on a comfy bed on the floor, or for smaller pets, on a table. The treatments appear to have a calming effect on most pets, especially after the initial session.
In general, pets begin to show signs of improvement after several sessions. It is highly unlikely to see much improvement before the first three sessions are completed, and in many cases, the improvement is gradual, over the entire series of treatments. In most cases of chronic pain, repeat “maintenance” visits may need to be scheduled on a single treatment basis, for example, one treatment session every 6 to 8 weeks.
Low level laser therapy is an excellent drug free adjunct and alternative for the management of pain and inflammation in our furry friends. To have your pet evaluated for possible laser treatment, please call Orchard Grove Animal Clinic to schedule an appointment.