Cold laser therapy is utilized in human physical therapy and rehabilitation and is also a useful tool for treating our veterinary patients. The word "laser" is an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation." Cold laser therapy incorporates a low-level radiation output, produced as a concise, targeted transmission that allows for minimal reflection and scattering while maximizing energy absorption at a specific depth. The energy is not the same as from the surgery laser which cuts and burns; thus the name "cold" laser.
By using what is known as photobiostimulation, the energy (in the form of photons) from the laser is transmitted to the cells of injured tissue. By increasing cellular activity (photons stimulate mitochondria to accelerate the production of ATP), the energy promotes healing. Local blood circulation is also stimulated, providing necessary nutrients to and bolstering the immune system in the affected area. Other physiological effects of laser therapy include the stimulation of fibroblast and collagen production (necessary for generating new connective tissue for wound healing), production of endorphins (natural pain killers), acceleration of the inflammatory process, and increased angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and lymphatic drainage. All of these things help to decrease pain and inflammation and to speed healing of injured and inflamed tissues.
This therapy can be used for any "itis" condition such as otitis (ear infection), pancreatitis, arthritis, and cystitis (bladder infection), as well as to help to heal fractures and to stimulate wound healing. Frequency of treatment depends upon the condition being treated and whether the issue is acute or chronic in nature. The effect of cold laser therapy is cumulative, with each treatment building upon the last. A patient with lumbosacral degenerative joint disease (discopondylosis), for example, might receive treatments as follows: two per week for one to two weeks; one per week for several weeks; several monthly treatments; and then only once every three to four months or as needed to keep the patient comfortable. Every patient and every case is different, and just like with people, overuse of muscles and joints, or newer acute injury might require a temporary increase in frequency. For wound healing, the frequency is determined by the healing response. Generally, wounds require two to three cold laser treatments per week for several weeks.