Tag Archives: pain

Cold Laser for Pain

Low-level laser treatment does not involve the use of the high-powered lasers that most people are familiar with. Instead, low-level lasers are used to emit red and near infra-red light with wavelengths of 600 nm to 1070 nm at 1 to 1000 mW. These low-power light sources do not generate heat, so they do not burn the skin during the therapeutic process. The wavelength of 600-800 nm range has been shown in numerous studies to be the optimal range to stimulate cellular healing without causing negative side effects. When cells are chemically damaged, they stimulate the pain cycle. Laser excites the kinetic energy within cells by transmitting healing stimuli known as photons. The skin absorbs these photons via a photo-chemical effect, not photo-thermal, therefore, it does not cause heat damage to the tissues. Once photons reach the cells of the body, they promote a cascade of cellular activities.

Low level laser therapy light can:

• Stimulate mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses for cells, providing energy to carry out biochemical reactions and other cellular processes. Mitochondria make energy for cells from the chemical energy stored in the food we eat.
• Increase blood flow. Poor blood flow is one of the main reasons wounds and injuries do not heal which can lead to chronic pain and inflammation. Oxygen which is carried by your blood plays a critical role in the formation of collagen, the growth of new capillaries, and the control of infection.
• Increase lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage helps to reduce swelling, relieve pain, detoxify the body, and speed up the regeneration of tissues and cells.
• Increase ATP synthesis (energy) by the mitochondria. ATP stimulates rapid tissue regeneration aiding in the healing process of acute and chronic inflammation or injuries.
• Elevate collagen formation substances to prevent the formation of scar tissues and increase elasticity in old scars. Collagen is a protein which makes up a third of the protein in your body and is 75% of your skin. Collagen is in your bones, muscles, and blood vessels. It is necessary for healthy joints, bones, and skin elasticity.
• Ignite the production of enzymes. Enzymes catalyze all kinds of chemical reactions that are involved in growth, blood coagulation, healing, diseases, breathing, digestion, reproduction, and many other biological activities. Increased enzyme activity can aid in accelerating the healing process.

Cold laser therapy has been shown to be an effective tool for reducing long-term disabling chronic pain and inflammation syndromes as well as the treatment of acute injuries and wound healing. LLLT is also being considered as a viable treatment for serious neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) including concussion, stroke, spinal cord injury, and degenerative central nervous system disease. Cold laser (LLLT) therapy accelerates the healing process in your cells and tissues whether your injury or pain and associated inflammation is new or old.

Understanding How Cold Laser Works

Often, people with acute or chronic pain (low back pain, a sore knee, or persistent neck stiffness) will quickly turn to over-the-counter pain medicine for relief.  However, the FDA recently issued strict warnings regarding the misuse and overdosing of over-the-counter pain medications due to severe complications such as stomach ulcers, hearing disorders and liver failure. In addition, there is a growing concern among physicians regarding the side effects associated with prescription pain medication.

So how can low-level laser therapy help?  Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), or cold laser, is a painless, sterile, non-invasive, drug free modality that is used for a variety of conditions such as acute and chronic pain, post-operative pain, shoulder pain, etc.

Housed within the mitochondria, the cell energy manufacturer, are receptors capable of absorbing distinct parameters of light.  Think of these receptors like any drug receptor.  When we consume a medication, the compound is absorbed by the body and it locates a particular receptor, based upon its molecular design, and will bind to that receptor.  Once the drug binds, a secondary reaction inside the cell takes place.  

A similar mechanism is observed when exposing the body to a particular color of light.  During a laser treatment, the light will penetrate the skin and is absorbed by this receptor within the mitochondria.  Receptor stimulation with light promotes energy production, biochemical reactions, protein and growth factor synthesis, cell growth and proliferation and enhancement of blood and oxygen flow.

   The result – more rapid healing and relief – nothing heals faster.  What this means to you is that in just a short time you could be pain free and able to resume the activities you enjoy.  

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.



Rapid Return to Full Motion

After a body undergoes surgery, there is scar tissue, which can limit movement and cause pain. Scar tissue can also form after trauma or repetitive stress.

Normal tissue is served by the body’s blood supply, preventing it from becoming brittle and callous. Scar tissue, however, forms as a temporary tissue base to promote healing. Eventually, the scar tissue will lose its vascularization (blood supply). This is what causes problems in the body as it forms adhesions to other tissues and structures, and often leads to chronic pain or hard-to-treat issues that hurt quality of life.

Myofascial release is a non-invasive way to remove scar tissue without negatively affecting healthy tissue. Myofascial release can address issues related to range of motion,shoulder, ankle, and knee pain; adhesions; back and neck pain; tendonitis; muscle spasms; trapped nerves; adhesions; headaches; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and more.


Relieving Pain and Restoring Range of Motion

Most bodies start off life using all muscles in a correct and efficient way. As injuries and overuse pile up, the body compensates by using less appropriate muscles. Eventually, compensations become patterns. The body may try several compensations before it runs out of options. At that point pain and weakness develop.

Pain is a poor guide for proper muscle use. Pain will lead the body down the wrong path! Correct body work, such as Trigger Point and Stress Point therapy, can lead the body towards health, and away from pain.

The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing constricted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. The body, whether human or animal,  can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment.

I highly recommend that horses are put on a regular schedule of massage treatments in order to help prevent injuries and keep muscles soft and supple.


Does Your Horse Show Signs of Muscle Fatigue?

No matter how fit your horse is, when he is at rest the muscles should not feel hard. Hard, dense muscles indicate pain and trigger points. Healthy muscles have an elastic feel when palpated.

Trigger points can cause weakness and lack of coordination, so often, riders will push to strengthen those areas. Know that you can’t strengthen muscles that are in spasm. The muscle fibers are contracted. What will happen is that the muscles surrounding the affected muscles will take up the slack, further weakening the muscles with trigger and stress points.

Muscles with trigger points fatigue more quickly than healthy muscles. And the muscles surrounding muscles with trigger points also become fatigued as they tighten and work too hard.

One of the signs that you can look for to identify spasms before you mount is twitching and trembling. Be on the lookout while you are grooming your horse.


Myofascial Pain Syndrome

In my studies and practice, I have come across many horses (and people) that live in pain and lameness because a diagnosis is never reached. This pain, or myofascial pain syndrome, is caused by trigger points that refer pain to other areas.

It is important to treat trigger points as soon as possible so that the syndrome doesn’t turn into chronic pain. The longer pain is present, the more muscles become involved in a chain reaction of dysfunction. One muscle might hurt and tighten and form trigger points, then those trigger points refer new pain somewhere else, and so on and so on…

How many horses do you know who have become pasture ornaments or brood mares because their mysterious lameness kept returning? The sooner trigger points are released, the simpler recovery will be. Muscles with trigger point pain can be returned to normal and healthy function. Eventually atrophied muscles can be strengthened and range of motion restored.


The Cold, or Soft, Laser

Many types of injuries, as well as chronic conditions, can be effectively treated with the cold laser.

Low Level Laser Therapy  is the use of therapeutic (or cold) laser light to provide relief from pain, eliminate inflammation or swelling, or to repair damaged tissues. The cold, or soft laser,  is entirely noninvasive and has a wide range of applications, from neural muscular-skeletal conditions to wound healing to acupuncture treatments. Rather than destroying tissue, as with surgical (or hot) lasers, LLLT uses low intensity laser light energy to stimulate cells through a number of known cellular pathways in order to encourage tissue healing.



Pain Relief Without Drugs

The cold laser I use is different from the lasers used to perform surgery. The lower frequency of light of the therapeutic laser used at horse shows by me and other practitioners does not cut or cauterize tissue.

You might want to try the soothing effects of the laser on your own aches and pains, so you know what your horse, dog, or cat is experiencing. Laser light takes the soreness out of painful tissue and enhances the delivery of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the injury site. This increase in circulation allows the tissues to expel lactic acids or other metabolic wastes along with inflammatory substances that contribute to local pain and swelling.

You can experience natural pain relief without the risks associated with pain medications. Most studies conclude that much faster healing takes place from injury when cold laser therapy is included in the recovery treatment.


The Joy of Laser

Many of you have heard of Laser surgery where light is used to cut tissue. Laser technology has progressed from the extreme application of burning and cutting to the approach I can now use with my equipment.

Simply stated, laser light can be used to energize living cells. Using correct protocols for individual conditions, cold laser therapy can produce dramatic changes to tissue.

Laser irradiation has an anti-inflammatory effect on tissue. Blood vessels dilate, which increases circulation. Pain receptor activity is suppressed; endorphin release is increased, and the metabolism within each cell is increased.

Cold laser therapy (also called soft laser) activates the production of immune cells. New capillaries are formed, which is essential for quick wound healing. At the same time, the fibrous tissue of scar tissue is reduced. Nerve cells are repaired, minimizing or eliminating the numbness of a major injury or wound.

And all these benefits are achieved without side effects. No drugs. No over the counter medicines. Lasers are safe and work quickly.


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