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Cold Laser - Are they worth it/do they work?

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  • Cold Laser - Are they worth it/do they work?

    So my gelding has a deep digital flexor tear. I have had several recommendations to have regular cold laser or light therapy. I'd like to know if they really work? I know there are many people including vets/therapists who swear by them. Looking into the costs and the number of treatments he needs, it may be worth purchasing one. I was looking at one from Vetrolaser. Any info on results and purchasing one would be helpful.

  • #2
    It appears that in some rat and pig models of experimental tendon injury, "low level" laser therapy makes the tissue look better under a microscope.

    One study I saw also noted that forcing animals (rats again) with tendon injuries to run gave the same benefit WRT healing of tissue microscopically, which was interesting!

    How all of this translates to horses is largely unknown, and although I'm no expert on lasers I'd want to be REALLY looking at precisely what type of energy was being delivered via the laser.

    My gut feeling is that it's in the realm of "possibly helpful, not likely harmful" but when it comes right down to it, there are no studies that I'm aware of in actual competing horses with actual tendon injuries WRT meaningful return to work and freedom from re-injury.

    One of my horses just had a small tendon injury, and I'm curious to hear what the vets have to say about therapy when he goes to MSU next week for a recheck. If they recommend laser therapy (and can support the recommendation with something more than I was able to find in the literature) I would consider it, but I would not lose any sleep if I was unable to locate a unit to rent and I have *no* intention of buying one.

    Just my $0.02.
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      While I can't comment on them in horses, I get this done to my ankle for physiotherapy. I had a ligament reconstructed and this has been helpful with getting my ligament to move properly and slide when it should. Help get his of scar tissue and promote healing.


      • #4
        We've had our own machine for over 25 years and I swear by it for healing "stuff"!! My husband has it on his back at this very minute to treat a torn muscle!! A couple of years ago I used it extensively on my broken leg/knee after the cast came off. I can tell you lots of positive result stories. You must be faithful in the treatments and a bit patient. but it DOES WORK!! It is not a magic bullet...it promotes natural healing via increased blood circulation. My horses LOVE it!!
        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


        • #5
          I own one for treating both horses when it happens and myself. I had a horse that had bad tendon damage to both his fronts. Both myself and the vets I worked with swear by them for soft tissue damages. It wasn't cheap, but worth it.


          • #6
            I've done it for horses and dogs (not my own personal animals, but at various jobs over the years). In my limited experience and opinion, I say the jury is still out whether it does anything. The owners of the animals always swear it helps, though.
            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


            • #7
              This is actually quite interesting. We had someone come out and do STS-2 laser therapy on a few horses and they seemed to feel better. Never considered buying the machine. I find the vetrolaser website to be a little...off-putting. I guess just all the different sized text, colors, "this comes free!" stuff, that's JMO. I'd also like to know if anyone has purchased anything from them?
              My OTTB and Finger Lakes Finest, Sunny Boy 'n Ben E and the old man, Salvator.

              Check out Second Chance Thoroughbreds and like us on Facebook!


              • #8
                I think they are worth a go - my vet has a class IV (which is not available to lay people and quite expensive but way better than class III) and we have had good luck with it on a few horses. I was a little skeptical, but she did my foot and back a few times, and I was impressed by how well it actually worked. My old decrepit corgi is WAY more active after 3 sessions too. I'd not bother with buying a class III, I'd just pay for class IV treatments


                • #9
                  Before dropping $500 on this thing I'd look for the peer-reviewed study that answers the questions:

                  1. Does "energy" increase "blood flow"?
                  2. If yes, then: can "increased blood flow" be shown to actually cure even one of the 20 different conditions listed on the Vetrolaser website? (My favorite is -- no joke -- "smoking cessation")
                  3. Specifically, has "increased blood flow" been shown to heal torn tendons?
                  4. Does the topical application of light from red-tinted LEDs actually "penetrate into deep tissue"? (The other day at the vet, for example, the musculo-skeletal utlrasound wand could not even penetrate my horse's winter coat).

                  Miracle cure-alls do not, alas, exist. But snake-oil salesmen do, By way of an anecdote: years back when I was but a crone-in-training, I was briefly involved with a con artist/trainer who used one of these cold laser dealios on my gelding's dodgy suspensory a couple of times. I couldn't detect any improvement whatsoever, but that didn't stop the trainer from declaring that it was working like a charm. And uh oh, he would need daily treatments for 8 weeks! Naturally she offered to rent me the laser at a princely rate. I finally woke up and smelled the coffee with that trainer when she tried to sucker me into her blue-green algae supplement Ponzi scheme.
                  Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


                  • #10
                    Earlier this year we had a horse with a large lasceration on his lower leg. Vet came and stitched it, The barn owner (who has been a human surgeon for the past 30 years) swore the stitches weren't going to hold. Nobody really liked that vet but the HO has used him for a long time and it would be impossible to change her. So, the wound closed up after about a week and we kept him in a pressure wrap for a month per vets orders. Once it was time to start leaving it open for a couple hours at a time, the incision site burst and the wound was just as bad as ever.

                    And so started (per the BO's instruction) with the cold laser. After each treatment, there was significant increased blood flow. It was thick and actually bubbling around the wound, really need to see. The wound started closing with real, healthy pink tissue within a week and was fully healed in another 1.5 months. It was really amazing to watch the progression.


                    • #11
                      I cannot answer the question at hand, but I can state that my cat has had cold laser treatment twice. This was with the high end (not low level laser). My cat is an older indoor cat. He has always hated the vet, and pees in his carrier/yowls due to stress when in the carrier traveling to the vet.

                      We took him to the vet as he was suddenly began hissing when touching is back above his tail, a place he has always loved to be petted.He also started walking with his tail low, not upright as normal, which notable changes in his musculature (to my eyes). X-ray showed some compression between one vertebrae in his back and old arthritic changes. We decided to start him on Adequan (which occurred one week later) but before doing this he had one cold laser treatment. He stayed noticeable more more comfortable, immediately carried his tail upright again, and he enjoyed the procedure.

                      He was SIGNIFICANTLY better (comfortable with his normal posture) prior to starting the Adequan. He has since been back for one more treatment even though he was no longer showing as severe of symptoms. We have had him for years and he has never had one trip in the car, without an accident, yowling, and stress (and he travels with us a lot). Since his treatments with cold laser, he travels well, has not had an accident, and is excited to get out of his carrier at the vet (or on trips). He now back to his active self, running around the house, meowing loudly, playfully wrestling with his younger counterparts, and generally more affectionate and happy. We know the Adequan has had a great deal of impact on his health and comfort but based on the first cold laser treatment and his behavior for the week prior to starting Adequan, we would say it works and has improved his stress related behavioral problems that occur with traveling.

                      During both procedures, he obviously enjoyed them and cooperated with the vet to turn this way and that, to reach different spots for treatment. He purred and rubbed the vet (both something he had never done at the vet).

                      I am a person that places more weight on research and very little emphasis on the testimonials....so keep in mind that this is one person's experience based on very limited experience. It it were something I was going to expend a large amount of money on, I would want to carefully research the proposed benefits and outcomes.....but, I'm glad we did the two treatments with our cat and would do more. It was not that expensive, and it has improved his life and ours.

                      I would keep in mind (the details have escaped me a this moment) but there are big differences in the strength of the cold laser machines (and also the cost of them). Our cat's treatment took less than 15 minutes. My vet said that the next lowest level machine (they had the best), would require 30 to 45 minutes of use and would not have same impact. I don't know anyone that practices with a lesser quality machine, but thought that it might be an important point that all machines are not created equal.


                      • #12
                        I work at a small animal specialty hospital that performs many orthopedic surgeries on a monthly basis. We always strongly recommend that they follow up with our certified rehab practitioner. This includes physical rehab and laser therapy with a Class IV laser (strongest on the market). The surgeon notices a HUGE difference in the healing and recovery of her patients that do rehab and laser therapy.

                        Like [b]ciscolark[/] alluded to above, the strength of the laser makes a very big difference when it comes to the length of time required for each treatment. The class designation is based on wattage (output power) of the laser.

                        This is some information from the manufacturer of the laser we use at our hospital.

                        Life-long horse lover, dreaming of the day when I have one of my very own.