Case: Laser therapy

We see a number of cases of chronic degenerative joint disease (DJD) where surgical treatment like joint replacement or salvage surgery is not an option.

When conventional treatment is not enough, we have two modern and emerging technologies that may help. These technologies can be used alongside each other, and alongside the other standard treatments (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics etc) that are described in our information sheet on DJD which can be found in the section for owners, sub-section “fact sheets”.

One option is platelet therapy (see separate article). Another is laser therapy. We have been using a class IV K-laser since 2012. It applies laser light energy to the affected area(s). This is done with the patient conscious, and the owner is usually present for this treatment to hold and reassure their pet. Treatment is not only completely painless, but it is actually very pleasant! One of our vets has actually had this treatment on the advice of a human physiotherapist to aid the recovery of an elbow injury, and they can confirm that laser therapy is a really nice sensation! Several cycles of treatment  are advised, each a few days apart. The laser provides energy in the form of light. The wavelengths of the light are selected to penetrate into tissue to a depth before the energy is absorbed by tissue. The energy absorption by the tissue results in increased local blood flow, increased local tissue oxygenation and increased metabolism and cellular energy production. See our links for more information.

We use the laser as an adjunct to some surgical treatments (see article on Achilles tendon injuries in the orthopaedic section), and for shoulder sprains that aren’t being managed surgically. Laser therapy can also have applications in wound management and in the rehabilitation of spinal patients.

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