Many people who bring their dogs to see us are unfamiliar with one big element of our toolkit – the electrotherapies we use (also referred to as electrophysical agents, or EPAs). We often get asked what they are and how they work….so we thought….time for a blog!!
We use both pulsed electromagnetic field therapy and Class 3b laser therapy regularly with the majority of our canine clients. The efficacy of both is backed by peer-reviewed research papers, we see the results with our patients and they are indispensable parts of our treatment plans. So – briefly – what are they and how do they work?
Class 3b laser therapy is the most common class of laser used in therapeutic treatments. It has a high enough output (up to 500mW) to affect tissue structures at a cellular level but carries less risk to cause skin and tissue damage than the higher output of a class 4 laser (anything over 500mW). Laser therapy works by stimulating the body’s natural healing processes to optimise tissue repair. The light energy from the laser is absorbed by the cell mitochondria, and creates a cascade of responses which promotes healing, helps increase circulation, reduces inflammation, improves oxygen delivery, reduces pain and improves the immune cell response. The laser is applied directly to the area of the body we are wanting to treat. It is effective in treating arthritis, promoting skin repair (we often use it over surgery incision sites or wounds), reducing muscle spasms and trigger points and improving neurological function, among other benefits.
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) is applied via pads which contain a coil, which an electrical current is passed through. The magnetic pulse created by the pads, when placed in contact with the body, induces electrical currents which stimulate cell repair and promote the body’s natural healing processes to kick into action. It is particularly effective at stimulating bone repair, reducing pain and stimulating neurons. For these reasons we often use PEMF for post-orthopaedic surgery, neurological and arthritic patients.
Both Class 3b laser and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy are painless to receive and many of our canine patients find the procedure very soothing. Initially, dogs can be wary of the equipment until they are familiar with it, which is why we introduce them slowly and within the dog’s comfort limits, as with everything we do!
The above is an incredibly brief and generalised summary of complex cellular processes and changes but overall – what do our electrotherapies do? Reduce pain and promote healing, in a non-invasive way!