Managing a pet suffering from chronic pain can feel like an endless balancing act. Most traditional treatments, such as pain medication and surgery, come with serious risks that veterinarians and owners need to balance. However, a new high-tech therapy may relieve pain without any discomfort or side effects. Laser therapy has been around for decades, but as of 2016, new advances in technology have made it more effective and less expensive than ever. The treatment works by focusing a beam of light on the painful areas. Cells absorb the light and are stimulated to increase their activity, which improves circulation and reduces inflammation. It also increases the body’s natural production of pain-relieving endorphins and reduces nerve sensitivity, all of which combine to reduce pain. Although laser therapy is commonly used for chronic pain, it can also help open wounds, broken bones and other acute injuries heal more quickly.
One of the most significant benefits of laser therapy is the lack of side effects and danger. Although popular culture associates lasers with serious heat, the healing technology uses so-called cold lasers, which only cause a gentle warmth. The process uses a handheld tool to focus the light, which feels like a soft, warm massage.
Many veterinarians perform the procedure in a comfortable, soothing environment to help their patients relax. The treatment is also generally affordable, and many pet insurance companies cover it.
Although studies have shown that laser therapy is effective in many cases, there are some animals that do not seem to respond to treatment. The exact percentage varies depending on the study, but a safe guess is that approximately 30 percent of animals don’t show any noticeable improvement after laser therapy. It also works best when combined with good lifestyle practices geared towards reducing arthritis, including keeping your pet at a healthy weight, feeding it a healthy diet, and continuing to provide exercise at a level appropriate for the animal’s age and health. Most pets develop arthritis pain as they age, but laser therapy is a safe and generally effective tool for keeping your beloved pet active and comfortable. Learn more about the subtle signs your pet may display when in pain.
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