Laser Therapy – Does it help?
Our 8 year Old springer/lab cross (‘springador’) has been suffering from arthritic hip joints for about the last 3 years. His condition has been relatively well managed with a daily dose of an anti-inflammatory medication. Whilst this has been satisfactory in most respects, it becomes concerning in how this continuous use will impact the health of his internal organs in the longer term. Additionally, does the long term use eventually diminish the efficacy of the medication as the condition becomes more chronic?
To address these concerns, I contacted Glenbrae to discuss if and how laser therapy may be beneficial. The consultation was extremely informative and it was fully explained that the health outcomes vary from one animal to another. Toby was given a full examination and the vet said that she felt that Toby would be a good candidate for laser therapy. We agreed a suitable treatment plan on the understanding that the plan may need to be adjusted (or even discontinued) depending on outcomes achieved.
Initially, Toby received 2 sessions per week for the first 3 weeks. From around the 3 – 4th session I noticed an improvement in his mobility and there were no side effects noted. The laser therapy sessions were in tandem with his existing medication regime. The mobility continued to improve over the initial 6 sessions.
Following the initial treatment plan it was agreed that, because of the progress, the sessions could now be dropped to 1 per week. The medication remained at its prescribed level. Over time, the period between sessions stretched to 10 days and now is at 2 weeks which I think is probably the correct level. More interestingly, perhaps, is that the anti-inflammatory medication dosage has reduced from 17mg daily to 12mg daily.
I was fortunate to be able to witness (and assist) a few of the sessions. It was clear that Toby was fully relaxed throughout the session to the extent that he ‘dropped off’ on a couple of occasions. At no time did he appear in any way distressed.
Outcome and outlook
Toby has seemed more mobile over the course of his treatments. For the first time in a number of years he has been able to jump on the settees at home unassisted. We have also changed his exercise regime to both reduce the length of his walks and ensured that his walks (daily) are on terrain that does not challenge his joints too severely. We have reduced the daily dose of his anti- inflammatory with no noticeable negative effect. The improvement in his condition is both better and faster than anticipated.
It is important to understand that laser therapy is not a cure: it is a pain management technique that will have to be maintained at a level that the arthritic condition requires. That level may change as the dog ages or the condition becomes more chronic so that must be taken into consideration over the longer term.