Last month, we announced the addition of an exciting new piece of equipment at Westbridge – the therapeutic laser. To recap; this incredible technology has been proven to reduce pain and inflammation in arthritic joints, promote healing in injuries and after surgery, and in many cases can reduce the use of traditional medications such as anti-inflammatories, steroids, and antibiotics. While this short list is impressive, there are many other benefits that we will cover over the next few weeks. This week, we would like to focus on arthritis and arthritic pain.
Simply put, arthritis is a disease of the joints that involves inflammation and pain, and can affect almost any animal. While there are different types of arthritis; osteoarthritis – or degenerative joint disease – is the most common. It can be the result of trauma to the joint, infection in the joint, or most commonly a result of age and ‘wear and tear’. It can affect any joint in your pet’s body, from their digits (‘toes’ and ‘fingers’), to their spine. As the disease progresses, it can rapidly affect your pet’s quality of life through lingering pain and discomfort. Often, the owner sees their pet just slowing down and being reluctant to exercise, or becoming completely sedentary. This is because osteoarthritis begins with the gradual wearing down of cartilage in the joint which can eventually lead to painful bone-on-bone contact. As the joint degrades, abnormal boney projections can appear.
While we cannot cure arthritis, it is possible to slow down the progression of disease, and to manage or markedly reduce pain. This is where the magic of the therapy laser comes into play!
The therapy laser both slows the progression of arthritis and controls arthritis-associated pain. There are many ways that the laser achieves this. One of the most important is that it blocks the production of naturally occurring inflammatory chemicals (prostaglandin e1 and bradykinine, for the keen) that are in part responsible for the progression of arthritis. Therapy laser has been shown to increase collagen production – collagen is an important molecule for healing, and is one of the main components of cartilage production. In addition, the therapy laser provides the following benefits that research has shown to have a significant positive impact on arthritic patients:
- Stabilization of the cell membrane to improve healing.
- Enhancement of ATP and DNA synthesis, leading to an increase in cellular health and energy.
- Increased serotonin levels, the body’s natural ‘feel good’ drug.
- Reduction in C-reactive protein and interleukin-1 levels , two additional molecules involved in inflammation.
- Stimulates dilation of blood vessels, allowing important nutrients to reach the site of inflammation, and negative inflammatory chemicals to leave.
- Increases in endorphins, the body’s natural opioid or pain medication.
In summary, the positive effects of therapy laser on arthritis are vast and numerous, and result in a significant reduction in the progression of disease, and potent pain relief that allows us to reduce the amount of prescription medications required to control pain, or, in some cases, eliminate them completely. Book a free consultation with one of our veterinarians today to discuss how the therapy laser can benefit your pet.