Recently, we had a number of emails asking us what low-level laser therapy is and can it help a pet with osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative myelopathy (DM). So I thought it might be good to give a quick overview of it here.
First off, low-level laser therapy is a form of intense light therapy that can reduce pain and stimulate healing by promoting positive physiologic changes at the body’s cellular level. It’s a lot like therapeutic ultrasound, which heals with sound waves, only low-level laser therapy uses light. And while there hasn’t been a lot of research into the use of low-level laser therapy in dogs and cats, but there have been plenty of studies on its use in humans and horses and from that we know that it accelerates tissue repair, increases the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue, and speeds the formation of collagen. For those reasons, it’s proven effective for wound management, alleviating chronic pain from joint conditions, including osteoarthritis, and healing soft-tissue injuries, including sprains, strains, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, capsulitis, and bursitis. Is it effective for DM? No, it won’t slow the progression of the disease, but often dogs with DM compensate for their limited hind limb mobility by putting more weight on their front limbs and low-level laser therapy can help mitigate pain in those overused muscles.
So those are the conditions where it can be helpful. There are times, though, when you want to be very careful with a low-level laser–for example, when using it on an animal with black skin as it can burn–and you never want to use low-level laser therapy on an animal who has or has had cancer as it can stimulate tumor growth.
For more information about this and other rehab therapies and techniques, including hydrotherapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, pulsed electromagnetic field therapys, and acupuncture, please visit our website at https://www.scoutshouse.com.