New Treatment Modalities for Pain Management: Class IV Laser Therapy & Extracorporeal Shockwave
We are lucky as Veterinarians to be practicing during a time when pain in animals is not only recognized, but is also heavily studied so that we can properly relieve it! There are new pharmaceutical analgesics, but also newer modalities, such as Class IV Deep Tissue Laser Therapy (Class IV LT) and Extracorporeal Shockwave (ECSWT). Both of these modalities can be used in a large variety of ailments, including non-healing wounds or bone fractures, sprains/strains, and, most commonly, with osteoarthritis. These modalities can be used together or separately. We routinely use them together when we are treating chronic joint pain. The goal in using these is to: 1) Reduce pain, 2) Reduce inflammation, & 3) Increase healing.
Class IV Laser Therapy utilizes the body’s own healing powers by inducing a biological response in the cells called “photo-bio-modulation”. This light energy induces the production of ATP in the cell. ATP is energy currency, the fuel that cells need for repair and rejuvenation. Increased ATP production leads to healthier cells, healthier tissue, and healthier animals.
Laser therapy is an FDA-approved modality. It is safe, painless, and fast! Treatments typically last between 5 and 10 minutes, but its effects last over 48 hours. The frequency of laser applications depends on each patient and each ailment, but for osteoarthritis, it is imperative to have 3 sessions per week for 2 weeks before reducing the frequency. Typically, owners see an improvement with their pet after 2-3 treatments, but may even see a positive difference after 1 treatment.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy is high energy sound wave technology. The high energy sound waves (shock waves) travel through the soft tissue at customized depths, reaching a specific treatment area and triggering the body’s own repair system. The shock waves stimulate proteins (growth factors) that increase blood flow. They encourage bone healing, slow the progression of cartilage deterioration, reduce inflammation, and create an analgesic effect.
Shockwave is is also non-invasive and safe. It does require a small amount of sedation because sound energy and deep tissue healing can cause mild discomfort during the procedure. Compared to the laser, the shockwave only requires 2-3 treatments 2 weeks apart to reduce healing times, improve mobility, and relieve pain. The effects last from 6 months up to a year.
These treatment modalities have done wonders on many of our patients! There are times we cannot prescribe any pharmaceutical analgesics due to organ dysfunction or intolerance and need something to give these pets relief. In most cases though, pets are already on multiple medications, but those are still not enough. Laser Therapy and ECSWT not only aid in making our patients more comfortable and pain free, but also in the healing process! If you think your pet would benefit from either or both of these
modalities, please contact us. These treatments are typically only available at veterinary schools or practices specializing in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation--so we are fortunate to have them here in Lake County! You can also visit the following websites for more information: http://www.litecure.com/companion/for-pet-owners/ AND http://www.pulsevet.com/healfido/.
Dr. Brie Duff