When your horse is experiencing inflammation and pain, it may seem natural to want to turn to anti-inflammatory drugs. Unfortunately, this may not actually be the best option for your horse. It’s true that these medications can provide your horse with some measure of relief, but they cannot heal or even help to heal the source of the pain. Furthermore, they cannot be used before equine competitions and they normally come with at least some undesirable side effects. Laser therapy, on the other hand, can help stimulate the tissue to heal properly, can be used before competition and does not normally have adverse side effects.
The Benefits of Laser Therapy
Photobiomodulation, which is more commonly known as laser therapy, is the use of red and near-infrared light wavelengths in order to heal damaged or injured tissue. When used well, laser therapy can improve healing time, reduce pain, increase circulation, decrease swelling and more. This therapy has long been used in Europe with great results, and is now becoming more widely used in the United States.
Laser therapy works by biostimulating the tissue that the laser is focused over. Red and near-infrared light interacts with the tissue at a cellular level, increasing metabolic activity and allowing for more efficient transport of nutrients, water and oxygen across the cell membrane. This works to stimulate the production of cellular energy, which in turn increases cellular function and health. As a result, healing time and circulation are improved and inflammation, muscle spasms, stiffness, swelling and pain are reduced.
Compared to other, lower class lasers, Class IV lasers deliver more energy to more tissue during a shorter period of time. This can allow them to achieve greater success in treating chronic or deeper soft-tissue damage and injury. That said, it is not advisable to purchase and use a Class IV laser on one’s own and without professional supervision or training. When used correctly, Class IV laser therapy is especially useful in resolving instances of chronic pain, and it has little to no adverse side effects. In fact, horses may experience very little sensation during laser therapy treatment, or only a mild warmth or tingling sensation. In some cases, the horse may feel a bit of sensitivity in an area of pain or inflammation prior to when the laser therapy treatment creates a reduction of pain. Rarely, old injuries are aggravated by laser therapy, but this is usually brief and minimal.
Laser therapy treatment usually takes three to nine minutes, depending upon the size of the area that is being treated and the extent of the injury or tissue damage. Chronic conditions tend to resolve with treatment that is administered two or three times a week initially and then once a week or once every two weeks after some improvement. That said, some conditions should initially be treated daily in order to bring about sufficient pain or inflammation relief and healing stimulation. Acute conditions may require anywhere from one to six treatments, while more chronic conditions may require anywhere from ten to fifteen treatments, or even more. The results of laser therapy are cumulative, so while there may be some results felt after the initial treatment, more marked results are often noticed after three or four treatments.
Laser therapy can be used with other forms of treatment, including massage and even after surgery. It is often considered a drug-free alternative that can be used for:
- Muscle, tendon and ligament injuries
- Pain management following trauma or surgery
- Inflammation and swelling
- Wound healing
- Degenerative disc disease
For more information about laser therapy and the Therapeutic Class IV Laser, contact La Crosse today.