What is Low Level Laser therapy? (LLLT) LLLT stimulates and optimises the body’s natural healing process through controlled application of specific wavelengths of light which have particular physiological effects.
Used primarily for wound healing, pain relief and soft tissue repair, it is a drug-free, non-invasive treatment modality employed in public and private health care institutions worldwide. Research has clearly demonstrated effects at cellular level, in animals and from clinical experience, but work continues into understanding exactly how laser therapy works.
The key research questions today are not whether low level lasers have positive effects, but how the precise and multiple biological mechanisms combine to create the physiological effects and how best to achieve the particular effects sought in each of the wide range of relevant applications.
In the meantime LLLT is now widely used by healthcare professionals across the world who appreciate not only its effectiveness but its added advantages of being drug-free, pain-free, non-invasive and without unpleasant side effects
Low Level Laser Therapy aims to biostimulate. Because of its low power nature, the effects are biochemical and not thermal and cannot cause heating and thereby damage to living tissue.
Three distinct photobiological effects are known to occur when using Low Level Laser Therapy:
1. Healing growth factor response through: Increased ATP and protein synthesis Improved cell proliferation Change in cell membrane permeability to calcium up-take
3. Immune system support through: Increasing levels of lymphocyte activity Photomodulation of blood
Low level laser therapy optimises the speed of repair in acute injuries but will also stimulate the body's repair processes in cases of non-healing or chronic conditions.
In addition, low level laser is used as an alternative medium in the practice of acupuncture. Laser Acupuncture provides: An effective general needle-free alternative Distinct energising characteristics A complementary medium in the suite alongside needles and moxibustion.
Laser therapy is used to increase the speed, quality and tensile strength of tissue repair, resolve inflammation, and give pain relief.
It is especially effective for: 780-830nm Infra-Red Wavelengths - Deep Tissue Penetration: Sprains & strains Wounds and abrasions Haematomas Ligament & tendon injuries, bowed tendon Inflammation Joint injuries Myofascial trigger points, pain points and deep-tissue acupuncture points Chronic & acute pain Non-union & small-bone fractures
Laser Therapy in Veterinary Practice The scientific documentation of laser therapy in the field of veterinary medicine is extensive – Tuner & Hode (2002) identified over 1000 animal studies the majority of which are experimental. Animals and horses in particular are more sensitive than humans to light and are also not prone to placebo effects, so the many positive scientific studies published attest to the effectiveness of laser therapy across a wide range of conditions.
Currently laser therapy is perhaps most commonly utilised with competition animals where the benefits of faster recovery, and so shorter lay-off times, are particularly attractive to owners and trainers. However, the therapeutic benefits are applicable to the full gamut of animals. From mastitis in cows to bumblefoot in budgies the range of conditions which laser therapy can helpfully address is extensive. Perhaps the most dramatic results are related to improved wound healing, especially where the patient is challenged either through severity of injury or already depleted health. Wounds can often be seen to visibly alter during the initial treatment.
Increasingly used by top racing yards and competition stables, laser therapy optimises healing for shorter lay-off recovery times from a range of conditions and injuries. Quick, painless and non-invasive, low level laser therapy delivers remarkable results in pain-relief, wound healing and soft-tissue repair. Both acute and chronic conditions can be treated effectively with healing at its quickest possible rate and improved new tissue quality. Low level laser treatment optimises natural healing by modulating relevant cell energy with specific intense light. From muscle spasms and bowed tendons to mud fever and sinusitis there is a laser therapy protocol to help.
The anti-inflammatory effects of laser are often relied upon when drugs are contra-indicated but increasingly the value of considering laser first is becoming apparent to more practitioners. With laser, inflammation is reduced as part of the optimised natural healing process so it addresses the problem rather than the symptoms as NSAIDs tend to do.
Equine Wounds Painless and with the ability to mitigate infection, laser therapy is highly effective for wound-heailing in horses. The wound periphery and the wound bed are treated with the effect not only of stimulating the natural healing processes and so reducing oedema and sensitivity around the wound, but also promoting good quality tissue repair with better aesthetic results. The earlier the treatment the better, but laser can also reactivate the healing processes in problematic older wounds.
Equine Damaged Tendons Laser therapy is useful in all cases of tendon injury. In cases of acute bowed tendons, laser is applied locally to the tendon, and has the effect of reducing swelling, usually in the first day or two. Treatment then promotes the regrowth of the collagen fibres to optimise the strength and elasticity of the tendon. Leading practitioners will often treat the also relevant acupuncture points to encourage muscle and tendon growth. Care must be taken not to over-exercise or turn out to grass too early, but with gentle reintroduction to training excellent progress is achievable.
Clinical Studies Low Level Laser Therapy in Horses. Yamada, H., Kameya, T., Abe, N., & Miyahara, K. (1989). Laser Therapy, 1 (1): 31-35. Abstract: Nineteen horses mainly with chronic inflammation of tendon and / or ligament that had not responded well to conventional medicine and methodologies, were treated by contact or acupuncture technique using gallium aluminium arsenide (Ga-AI-As) diode laser (10mW, 790nm) without medicament. The treatments were performed every day or every other week, for 20 to 40 s on the affected area or acupoints. Of 19 cases, 12 (63.2%) were cured, five (26.3%) were improved and two (10.5%) were unchanged. It was concluded that clinical application of low level laser therapy, such as contact and / or laser acupuncture technique is non-invasive and not painful for animals and effective in pain suppression and improvement of inflammatory reaction, especially in acute and mild cases. Therapy of RAO (COPD) In Horses – Controlled Laser Acupuncture Versus Pharmacotherapy. Reitz, A (2008). Zeitschrift für Ganzheitlich Tiermedizin: 10-13. A Study of the Effects of Lasering on Chronic Bowed Tendons at Wheatley Hall Farm Limited Canada. McKibbin, L. S., Paraschak, D M. (1983). Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 3: 55-59. Soft Laser Treatment of Musculoskeletal and Other Disorders in the Equine Athlete.Antikatzides,T.G. (1986). Equine Practice, 8 (2). Use of Laser Light to treat Certain Lesions in Standardbreds. McKibben, L.S., Paraschak, D. (1984). Modern Veterinary Practice, March 1984. An investigation into the depth of Penetration of Low Lever laser Therapy Through the Equine Tendon In Vivo. Ryan, T. And Smith, R.K.W.(2007). Irish Veterinary Journal 60 (5). Treatment of Chronic Back Pain in Horses – Stimulation of Acupuncture Points with a Low Powered Infrared Laser. Benson, B. MJnr & Klide, A.M. (1987). Veterinary Surgery 16 (1): 106- 110. Soft Laser in the Conservative Treatment of Chronic Skin Lesions in the Horse. Muxeneder R (1987). Praktische Tierarzt, 68 (1): 12 –21. The effects of low level lasers on soft tissue in veterinary medicine. Lloyd S. McKibbin and Robert Downie. The Acupuncture Institute, Wheatley, Ontario, Canada N0P 2P0 Unpublished. LP – Laser effects in equine traumatology and post-surgery. Theo. G. Antikas (1990)Unpublished. A review of clinical applications of Low Level Laser Therapy in Veterinary medicine Kaymeya T, Wang L, and Haruo Y () ..... Laser therapy by fibroendoscopy in the mucosa of the equine upper airway. Gomez-Villamandos R.J., Santisteban-Valenzuela J.M, Ruiz-Calatrava I., Gomez-Villamandos J.C., Avila-Jurado I. ( )....., Laser Therapy and Wound Healing in Horses Peterson, S.L., et al. (1999) Equine Veterinary Journal, 31. Laser Acupuncture on Horses with COPD. Petermann, U ( 1998) Prakt Tierarzt, Akupunktur, Germany. Laserakupunktur bei infizierter Tendinitis des Pferdes. Petermann, U (1999). Prakt Tierarzt 1. Lasertherapie in der Veterinärmedizin. Petermann, U (1998).. Vet Impulse 24: 12-13. The role of laser acupuncture in equine back problems. Petermann, U ( )Prakt Tierarzt, Akupunktur, Laser acupuncture treatment of infected arthritis and tendosynovitis in horses. Petermann, U ( ) Prakt Tierarzt, Akupunktur.