Monthly Archives: June 2014

State of the Art Pain Relief

Lasers have been studied since they were invented in the 1950’s. Every day I receive notifications of new studies and discoveries of the ways low level laser therapy can stimulate cells to heal.

Studied by NASA and long preferred by professional and Olympic athletes who need to get back into the game as soon as possible, laser technology for treatment of acute and chronic pain associated with neck, back, and other musculoskeletal issues is now becoming popular with the general public.

This state-of-the-art approach to pain treatment applies specific wavelengths of light to promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation in a noninvasive, nonsurgical way. The treatment is painless and for most patients offers relief after just a few appointments.

Why has it taken so long for cold laser therapy to be taken seriously? One difficulty is that the effects can be subtle, failing to provide a clear picture of so called “photobiomodulation” — that the light was somehow triggering novel, positive biochemical activity. A second difficulty is associated with pain therapy, which is a field often associated with fraudulent medical claims.

That’s precisely why a new paper published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Science Translation Medicine is so important. The study was performed by a team of researchers at Harvard University’s Engineering, Medical, and Dental schools. The paper offers one of the most conclusive and careful control set experiments ,whose results show clear evidence of photobiomodulation in rats. But what makes the paper truly groundbreaking is that it offers, for the first time, a hypothesis regarding a mechanism by which photobiomodulation may occur in mammals.

A major benefit of laser technology for the treatment of pain is that it can eliminate the need for long term anti-inflammatory usage, steroid injections and other invasive pain treatments, and for many patients, allows them to avoid surgery altogether.

Pain relief usually can occur as fast as 1 minute, decrease in inflammation in 1 hour, and tissue repair begins in one day.

An acute injury requires one to five treatments and for a chronic injury five to 20 treatments. The sooner an injury is treated, the faster it recovers. The recommended frequency for treatment is usually two to three times a week.

I love receiving feedback after your cold laser session, so feel free to leave a testimonial.  Thank you!


Using the Cold Laser to Prevent Injuries

Alberto Salazar is a running coach to Olympic medalists and many other successful runners. Observers have noted that Salazar’s athletes are not only fast, they seem to avoid the injuries that plague others in the sport. An article in the Portland Business Journal reveals the latest Salazar method: the use of laser therapy to prevent injuries, or speed healing.

“We use the lasers at the first sign of injury to limit an exaggerated inflammatory response that can delay healing and help the athlete return to training more quickly,” Salazar says in a short interview.

Proponents believe that laser treatments can reduce pain, and speed healing of all body tissues–muscle, tendon, ligament, and bone. Some studies have found it superior to ultrasound.

Before tendons become inflamed and swollen causing pain to the patient (whether two or four legged) and causing a  loss in strength and motion, low level laser, or cold laser, can be a very effective therapy.


Improve Range of Motion and Reduce Pain

No body has to live in pain from injury, arthritis, back pain, sciatica. That sounds like a radical statement but there are many therapies to address chronic pain.  Myofascial Release is a soft tissue therapy designed to change and improve the health of the fascia. Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue that provides support and protection for most structures within the body.

Fascia literally holds us together.  When we encounter fascial and muscle dysfunction, the result is usually pain and discomfort, loss of range of motion in our bodies ,and a subsequent loss of well-being and quality of life.

When the fascia gets bunched, similar to plastic Saran wrap for example, it can bind down on nerves, blood vessels and organs and thus cause restriction and pain.

Because the fascia cannot be detected on X-ray, CT ,or MRI ,scans it is often the reason for unidentified discomfort.

Myofascial Release breaks down scar tissue, relaxes muscles, and restores good posture. It is used with great success to target chronic pain, sometimes in only a few sessions. I have been working on many horses lately that have been recovering from injuries. In just a few sessions, we are seeing  better joint flexibility and range of motion. Instead of an angular, disjointed profile, the body has a harmonious, flowing appearance.


Why Trigger Points Are Trouble!

Sore muscles usually feel better after a day or two of rest. But if you or your horse has persistent muscle pain — particularly in the neck, shoulders, hamstrings or back — and you literally can put your finger on the spot where it originates, you may be dealing with a trigger point. Trigger points exist in tight bands of muscle or tendon tissue and will twitch when pressed. Trigger points are something traditional doctors ignore, but they should not be overlooked as a source of pain, discomfort, or restricted movement.

Trigger points are tight knots of muscle fiber that can’t relax. Muscle often feels denser and tighter at a trigger point — more rope-like. When you push on it, pain spreads throughout the muscle area. Good posture and body mechanics can help prevent trigger points from forming, but every body will experience them at some point.

Myofascial Trigger Point therapy is a safe, effective ,and drug-free way for massage therapists to help animals or humans suffering from pain and limited range of motion.


Acupuncture for Animals

A key component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture can be traced back more than 5,000 years. Acupuncture aims to treat a range of conditions by targeting specific points in the body. It does so through the application of heat, pressure, or laser, with the most widely recognized method being penetration of the skin by thin needles.

Traditional Eastern and contemporary Western medicines differ on their theories of why acupuncture works. Eastern thought holds that stimulating these acupoints corrects the imbalances of qi, or circulating life force, through channels known as meridians. Western physicians largely dismiss such concepts,  but they do believe that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, and can effectively treat musculoskeletal pain, postoperative pain, and nausea.

In veterinary history, acupuncture charts for horses date around 136 AD. Today, the science has been accepted for more than 30 years as a viable treatment for animals of many different species and sizes. It is even covered by some pet insurance companies in Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere.

Most animals actually enjoy acupuncture or cold laser treatment.  When older patients are suffering from arthritis, cold laser or acupuncture can be the best choice, since medications are often not tolerated well. In that case, acupuncture is a perfect fit to help manage their chronic pain. I use cold laser, or low level light therapy, in much the same way that acupuncture is used. The advantage is that there is no need to penetrate the skin with the needle.


Instant Pain Relief!

There is a whole new area of pain relief being offered in the form of cold laser therapy.  The uses for this non-invasive therapy are rapidly growing:  the  laser can be successfully used for treatment of musculoskeletal pain, neck pain, back pain, extremity pain, post surgical pain.  Literally in one minute you can have pain relief, reduced inflammation and muscle spasms while accelerating recovery.


The cold laser, or low level laser, utilizes specific wavelengths of light to interact with tissue.  Non-thermal photons of light that are emitted from the laser pass through the skin layers (the dermis, epidermis, and the subcutaneous tissue or tissue fat under the skin). This thlight has the ability to penetrate 2 to 5 centimeters below the skin.

There are no unsafe side effects to the cold laser.  It can be used on humans and animals easily.


Restoring Harmony to the Equine Body

When there is an imbalance in the  alignment of the body, the result is aches and pains.  The pains lead to a learned response from muscles to try and avoid the discomfort, further distorting the body.  When I watch a horse walk, I look for all the clues that show which muscles are tight and causing asymmetry . The massage I do works to lengthen the overly tight muscles, and to help the extended muscles to contract in order to bring the two sides of the horse into balance.

Any repetitive motion creates muscle and tissue shortening. Eventually the torso becomes crooked, which creates restrictions and pain. What I do is a number of techniques to release muscle shortening , spasms ,and adhesions that may have occurred as a result of injury. To lengthen tissue, to restore length of motion, is my goal with each equine athlete.

Many people give their horse time off when it shows signs of muscle soreness or tension. Rest is important, but if there are knots in the muscle fibers, they will still be there no matter how much rest the horse has. Those knots have to be manually removed. You will see the results immediately, as your horse moves with a new fluidity.


How to Reduce the Risk of Injury

What if I told you there was a simple way to reduce the risk of injury, increase mobility and flexibility, and increase blood flow to muscles? Before a workout or a horse show event, myofascial release can optimize your performance, and that of your horse, and greatly reduce the risk of strains, sprains, fractures,  or tears.

Restrictions and tensions of the soft tissue (muscle, fascia)  do not show up on standard hospital imaging and many patients  (both human and animal) suffer pain and injury because their pain cannot be diagnosed.

If a muscle is tight or stiff, moving it too fast can result in an injury. Fascia wraps around the entire muscle and every soft tissue in the body. When properly softened and stretched through massage, the entire structure of the body can function smoothly and safely. The investment of pre-activity body work can save months of costly rehab.


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Painless Therapy for Pain

There is real relief from pain without the use of habit forming medications that have harmful side effects.  If you or your animal have pain from accidents or injuries in the back, hip, joints, neck, etc.  relief can be had with the cold laser. Non-thermal photons of light are emitted from the laser , then pass through the skins layers (the dermis, epidermis, and the subcutaneous tissue or tissue fat under the skin.  

This light has the ability to penetrate 2 to 5 centimeters below the skin at 90mw and 830 nm. According to a study from the National Institutes of Health, when cells absorb this light energy, it initiates a series of events in the cell that result in normalizing damaged or injured tissue, a reduction in pain, inflammation, edema and an overall reduction in healing time by increasing intracellular metabolism.

Cold Laser Therapy is a non-invasive and non-toxic treatment that uses light energy to repair and regenerate cells of the body. Cold Laser has proven to reduce the need for medication, increase the recovery rates of affected tissue and improve the outcome of the conditions treated. If painful surgery could be avoided, wouldn’t  you want to try laser therapy?



Think About Your Car!

When the wheels of your vehicle are not in proper alignment, there is abnormal wear and tear on the tires and other parts. Perfect alignment and maintenance allows your car to run properly and get full longevity on all of its parts and pieces. Your body ,and that of your horse, are exactly the same.

Injury and repetitious patterns can change the body of an athlete from ideal functioning as the fascia gradually shortens, tightens ,and adjusts to accommodate misalignment. Fascia is the glue that holds everything together, providing shape, support, and reinforcement to muscle, bone, and movement. It often forms attachments (gets stuck), and needs to be loosened for free movement.

Any body, whether horse, human, dog, etc. that has had proper massage and myofascial release, feels balanced, capable, comfortable, and  fluid in movement. Structural integration realigns and resets the body, giving freedom of movement often not seen in years. Every athlete needs maintenance, as much as any car!


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