Laser Therapy is Good Medicine for Humans and Their Companion Animals… Any Animals
- Use of lasers in veterinary medicine is steadily increasing, with impressive results, yet there are still those who believe laser therapy is just a gimmick employed primarily by the holistic veterinary community.
- Most of the usual criticisms of laser therapy are being discredited by clinical studies, systematic reviews and meta-analyses demonstrating its many applications in both human and veterinary medicine.
- High-quality research on the use of laser therapy exists. Guidelines for use of lasers are in place. And the science behind how lasers work to relieve pain and produce beneficial changes at the cellular level is available.
By Dr. Becker
Laser is actually an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Laser beams are different from other light sources in that they provide focused energy that produces small points of intense power.
The light from a laser can cauterize (burn), cut and destroy tissue in a very precise manner. Used at lower power, called low-level laser therapy, lasers have the ability to alter the function of cells without heat and without destroying those cells. This is known as biostimulation, and it can be used to treat a variety of conditions affecting the joints, nerves and soft tissue in animals.
In recent years, use of lasers in both human and veterinary medicine has increased in the treatment of conditions that were once managed only with drugs and surgery. In many situations, laser procedures are much less invasive than the traditional therapies they replace. They can also reduce or eliminate the need for drugs in certain cases.
So when it comes to laser therapy for animals, why is a perfectly legitimate healing modality still considered by some to be trickery perpetrated primarily by the holistic veterinary community on gullible pet owners and animal caretakers?
Misconception #1: There’s a lack of reliable research on the effectiveness of laser therapy
One reason for this mistaken belief is a history of negative published studies on laser therapy since its discovery over 50 years ago. This is primarily due to the incorrect use of laser equipment affecting study outcomes. Several parameters, including dosing and laser output testing, have significant bearing on the results achieved.
Fortunately, the World Association for Laser Therapy now provides standards for the design and execution of clinical studies, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. A systematic review is an examination of all available high-quality research evidence relevant to a specific research question. Systematic reviews of high-quality randomized controlled trials are essential to the advancement of evidence-based medicine.
Meta-analysis is a statistical technique used to combine findings from independent studies, for example, combining data from two or more randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular healthcare technique. The purpose of meta-analyses is to provide an accurate estimate of the effect of a specific treatment.
Another criticism of laser research is that it is of poor quality and can’t be used to establish the effectiveness of laser therapy.
This may have been the case at one time, but no longer. A number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses have demonstrated the benefit of laser treatment for a variety of conditions. These include pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis1, neck2 and shoulder3 pain, tennis elbow4, Achilles tendinitis5, and inflammation/ulceration of the lining of the digestive tract caused by chemotherapy.
Misconception #2: No guidelines exist on how to perform laser treatments
Along with the misperception that there’s a lack of credible research on the use of lasers, another criticism is that no guidelines are in place for treatment, making it a guessing game to determine the right laser dose.
The World Association of Laser Therapy has published a list of recommended treatment doses for a number of pain problems. And while the recommended treatments are for humans, they are derived from clinical trials and studies on animals with similar pathologies.
The recommendations for veterinary use of lasers are closely aligned with these guidelines.
In addition, laser therapy clinical trials are being conducted at some veterinary schools. Colorado State University is conducting a randomized, controlled clinical trial on laser treatment for snake bites in dogs.
At the University of Florida, researchers completed a study on laser therapy for dogs with intervertebral disk disease. Study results showed that after a spinal cord injury and surgery, dogs who received laser therapy walked sooner, had no medical complications, and were discharged earlier. In fact, the results were so dramatic they are now using lasers with every dog presenting with that condition.
Misconception #3: Laser treatment is nothing more than expensive heat therapy
Another argument against laser treatments is that they are nothing more than very expensive heat therapy. This is simply incorrect.
Not all lasers warm the tissue and perceptions of heat being applied depend on equipment settings. In any event, heat isn’t how lasers heal. They heal by creating a photochemical reaction in tissue known as photobiomodulation. Photobiomodulation describes the changes that occur after light enters mitochondria and triggers beneficial physiologic changes.
Laser therapy affects a variety of tissues in the body, including neurons. Studies in the use of lasers to promote nerve regeneration6 have shown exciting results in bringing a return of function after acute spinal cord injury in rats.
Misconception #4: There is no science to explain how laser therapy works
Finally, perhaps the weakest criticism of laser therapy is that many people, including vets who use it regularly in their practices, can’t explain the science behind it.
Many practitioners can’t explain the scientific rationale behind treatments used in traditional veterinary medicine, either — for example, corticosteroid therapy. Yet steroids, which can have significant long-term side effects, are prescribed every day by MD’s and DVM’s.
The science of laser therapy is available. It’s just difficult for some to grasp – especially when the drugs-and-surgery medical model is all that is taught in the majority of vet schools.
As more veterinary schools expand their curriculums to include laser therapy training, more DVM’s will come around. Lasers, properly applied and dosed, provide significant benefits and expand veterinarians’ options for treating patients effectively, often eliminating or reducing the need for surgery or drugs.
August 25, 2012 - Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets | Dr. Becker, laser surgery for companion animals, laser surgery for pets, pet surgery, veterinary medicine
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Save a Life…Adopt Just One More…Pet!
Everyday we read or hear another story about pets and other animals being abandoned in record numbers while at the same time we regularly hear about crazy new rules and laws being passed limiting the amount of pets that people may have, even down to one or two… or worse yet, none.
Nobody is promoting hoarding pets or animals, but at a time when there are more pets and animals of all types being abandoned or being taken to shelters already bursting at the seams, there is nothing crazier than legislating away the ability of willing adoptive families to take in just one more pet!!
Our goal is to raise awareness and help find homes for all pets and animals that need one by helping to match them with loving families and positive situations. Our goal is also to help fight the trend of unfavorable legislation and rules in an attempt to stop unnecessary Euthenization!!
“All over the world, major universities are researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions which are employing full-time pet therapists and animals is increasing daily.” ~ Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love
So if you have the room in your home and the love in your heart… Adopt Just One More Pet or consider becoming a Foster parent for pets… Also check out: Little Critter: Just One More Pet
Photos By: Marion Algier – The UCLA Shutterbug
There is always room for Just One More Pet. So if you have room in your home and room in your heart… Adopt Just One More! If you live in an area that promotes unreasonable limitations on pets… fight the good fight and help change the rules and legislation…
Save the Life of Just One More…Animal!
Recent and Seasonal Shots
As I have been fighting Cancer… A battle I am gratefully winning, my furkids have not left my side. They have been a large part of my recovery!! Ask Marion
Photos by the UCLA Shutterbug are protected by copyright, Please email at JustOneMorePet@gmail.com or find us on twitter @JustOneMorePet for permission to duplicate for commerical purposes or to purchase photos.
If you can adopt or foster just one more pet, you could be saving a life, while adding joy to your own! Our shelters are over-flowing… Please join the fight to make them all ‘NO-Kill’ facilities.
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Great Book for Children and Pet Lovers… And a Perfect Holiday GiftOne More Pet Emily loves animals so much that she can’t resist bringing them home. When a local farmer feels under the weather, she is only too eager to “feed the lambs, milk the cows and brush the rams.” The farmer is so grateful for Emily’s help that he gives her a giant egg... Can you guess what happens after that? The rhythmic verse begs to be read aloud, and the lively pictures will delight children as they watch Emily’s collection of pets get bigger and bigger.
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If You Were Stranded On An Island…A recent national survey revealed just how much Americans love their companion animals. When respondents were asked whether they’d like to spend life stranded on a deserted island with either their spouse or their pet, over 60% said they would prefer their dog or cat for companionship!
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