What is LLLT?
LLLT (Low level laser therapy) is a painless, sterile, non-invasive, drug-free treatment which is used to treat a variety of pain syndromes, injuries, wounds, fractures, neurological conditions and pathologies. Laser therapy can be used any time a patient requests or needs a drug-less procedure for the control of pain, when conventional therapies have been ineffective, or when the acceleration of healing from in-juries is desired.
Around the world, laser therapy is rapidly becoming a medical therapy that can heal wounds and fract-ures up to 60% faster and also reduce the cost of treatment for many conditions. In the U.K., LLLT has become the treatment of choice for soft tissue “whiplash” injuries and for the treatment of painful post-herpetic neuralgia (shingles pain).
How Does Laser Light Heal?
Healing with the use of light is not new. Light therapy was reported to be effective for many conditions by Hippocrates. With the development of the laser and its special properties, using light as a treatment has gained more popularity. This is because we can now use specific wavelengths of light and give accurately measured doses of energy directly to the appropriate treatment site, which was not possible with other light sources.
Low level lasers supply energy to the body in the form of non-thermal photons of light. Light is transmitted through the skin’s layers (the dermis, epidermis and the subcutaneous tissue or tissue fat under the skin) at all wavelengths in the visible range. However, light waves in the near infrared ranges penetrate the deepest of all light waves in the visible spectrum. When low level laser light waves penetrate deeply into the skin, they optimize the immune responses of our blood. This has both anti-inflammatory and immunostimulate effects. It is a scientific fact that light transmitted to the blood in this way has positive effects throughout the whole body, supplying vital oxygen and energy to every cell.
What to Expect During a Laser Therapy Treatment Session
For most pets, laser therapy is quite passive. There are no pulsating shocks felt, as in forms of electronic stimulation, nor heat used as with ultrasounds. The most noticeable sensation is the touch of the probe head of the laser, as it comes in contact with the skin.
Some pets (3-5% of those undergoing light therapy) have reported a slight tingling or tapping in a nerve or along a nerve pathway. Some have noted that they are able to sense a slight feeling of warmth. But for the most part, the treatment, which may last from 2 to 20 minutes, is not noticed at all.
Following (and even during) a laser therapy session, approximately 75-80% of pets being treated can notice an immediate improvement in their condition. This will depend primarily on the type of condition and the length of time the condition has been present.
Generally, the more chronic or severe the condition, the longer it takes to respond. The majority of conditions treated will take anywhere from 4-5 or 10-18 treatments. Once again, the number of treatments depends upon the severity of the condition and its duration. If your condition does not change immediately, it may take 3-4 sessions before a dramatic or marked change is perceived.
Lick granuloma: 6 J directly on the spot in light contact mode (barely touching). It is best to use a cover to protect the lenses from blood. Treat twice weekly until the licking stops, then as needed to control the behavior.
Hip dysplasia: Both cranial and caudal to the greater trochanter of the femur, directing the beam toward the acetabulum and pressing down firmly. Use 6 J each spot for a total of 12 J per joint. Treat twice weekly until the improvement levels off (three to four weeks) and then as needed. Some will improve with a single treatment.
Oral ulcers: 6 J directly over the outside of the lips with light pressure (these areas are painful). If the patient is anesthetized use a light contact mode with one of the marked diodes directly to the ulcer. Repeat twice weekly until the ulcers heal, being sure to watch for positive results. If the cause of the ulcer (plaque, irritation, etc) is not removed, there is likely to be treatment failure.
Cranial Cruciate strain (note, if it is torn then surgery is required): 6 J to either side of the straight patellar ligament, directed into the joint with firm pressure. Treat twice weekly until lameness improves. If some improvement is not noticed within the first few treatments then reevaluate the cause of the lameness.
Lipoma: LLLT has been shown to form transitory pores in adipose cell membranes followed by the collapse of adipocytes (Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 2009 Dec:41 (10):799-809). It is being explored for body contouring by plastic surgeons. For our purposes we wished to explore the effect on lipomas. Using firm pressure and 6 J over the mass, repeating twice weekly is flattening and dispersing the fat within a couple of weeks. So far we are very encouraged with the results.
Acute Shoulder lameness: From traumatic injury, without radiographic changes: We have had several of these and one treatment of 6 J firmly pressed over both the medial and lateral glenohumeral ligaments has resulted in a normal gait within minutes of walking around in about half the cases. The others have required only one or two more treatments.
Otitis Externa: In cases with the canals too narrow to get in with an otoscope, we flush as well as we can and treat the horizontal and vertical canal with 6 J and firm pressure over the outside of the ear, just caudal to the temporomandibular joint. Within three days we can visualize the canals and tympanum and finish flushing if needed. We then give an additional 6 J of therapy. This allows whatever medication we deem appropriate (based on cytology) to be delivered according to our standard protocols.
Post-Operative incision treatment: A single treatment over the suture site is delivered using 3 J of energy, “painting” along the site, with gentle contact. The site heals in less time and with less suture reaction.
Lumbar pain: On those typical animals presenting with a “tucked under” gait, reluctant to jump or climb, we treat directly over the spine at the level of the narrowing intervertebral spaces, or if radiographs are not a possibility, the level of the tense epaxial musculature. Treatment is 6 J each over the space(s). We also treat directly over those tense muscles, using firm contact and 6 J each area.
Hot Spots: We have been having good results with a single treatment of 3 J in soft contact mode painting the area.
Pyoderma: We have only had one such case so far. It was a 9 week old Siberian husky with severe ventral thoracic staph pyoderma. It covered the entire ventral chest area extending onto the abdomen. It was very thickened and painful. We treated it with a total of 9 J, painting the area in soft contact mode and gave a Convenia injection. No other treatment was done. Owner called back three days later to report the lesion had completely resolved.
Chronic renal failure: LLLT suppresses pathological processes in nephrocytes, and can stimulate compensatory processes in the contralateral kidney in experimental models (Urologiia. 2006 May-Jun: (3): 47-50). With this in mine we treat each kidney with 6 Joules of energy as well as the standard therapy, using the laser to compliment our standard protocols.
According to published Medical Reports, many acute and chronic conditions may be improved or eliminated with laser use including:
• Acute Shoulder lameness
• Acupuncture Points
• Chronic renal failure
• Cranial Cruciate strain
• Hormonal alopecia
• Hot Spots
• Joint Ankalosis
• Lick Granuloma
• Ligament Repair
• Lumbar pain
• Otitis ExternaPost
• Operative incision treatment
• Pain Management
• Post Ear Crop Surgery
• Post Cruciate/Patellar
• Post Laser Declaw
Effects of LLLT
• Biostimulation including Improved
metabolism & Increase of cell metabolism
• Improved blood circulation and
• Analgesic effect
• Anti-inflammatory and anti-
• Stimulation of wound healing
Benefits of LLLT to pets
• Relieves acute and chronic pains
• Increases the speed, quality and
tensile strength of tissue repair
• Increases blood supply
• Stimulates the immune system
• Stimulates nerve function
• Develops collagen and muscle tissue
• Helps generate new and healthy cells and tissue
• Promotes faster wound healing and clot formation
• Reduces inflammation