A Natural And Effective Way To Control Post Surgical Pain In Pets

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Natural surgical pain control for pets

I know that a class IV therapy laser is not “natural” per se, however its physiological effect on tissues at the cellular level, a process known as photobiomodulation, stimulates the body’s intrinsic natural healing and pain control mechanisms.  Ongoing research has revealed proven expanded uses for therapy laser, the most recent of which is management of post surgical pain.

The pain management effect of therapy laser has been observed and well documented for many years.  The main mechanism by which therapy laser controls pain is via endorphin release at the site of application.  Endorphins are hormones that are released  most commonly as the result of stress (flight or flight response) or during periods of sustained exercise.  They dull the sensation of pain, while also serving to facilitate mental calmness, even euphoria that can be so powerful as to rival the effects of morphine.

Endorphins, for example, are responsible for the “runner’s high” that people who run for exercise experience that often leads to their quasi addiction to the sport.  Others people seek endorphin rushes via thrill seeking behaviors and are commonly referred to as “adrenaline junkies.”

A recent lecture I attended at the Western Veterinary Conference discussed an innovative way to promote post surgical pain management via the use of therapy laser utilizing the endorphin effect that the class IV laser produces on focal areas of treatment.  By applying a 3 minute laser treatment to a surgical site 2 hours prior to surgery, we create a focal nerve blockade that is driven by the local endorphin release stimulated by the laser.  While the stimulus for the nerve block is triggered by a high tech device, the ensuing physiological response is very natural and without adverse side effects.

By inducing this nerve blockade, we are taking advantage of an anesthesia principal called the Pain Gate Theory.  This theory refers to the reduction of post operative pain by blocking pain channels before the initiation of the pain stimulus.  This is why we pre-medicate surgical patients with opioid pain management and perform preoperative epidurals for lower extremity surgeries even though the patient will be under gas anesthesia for a given procedure.

By using a therapy laser application prior to surgery, we have less pain induced post-operative stress, the patient has a much faster return to mobility, and we reduce our dependence on opioid medications that can carry negative side effects.  The net result is a faster recovery, faster return to function, and overall better outcomes.

The only contraindication for pre-operative therapy laser would be tumor removals.  The photobiomodulation effect could potentially trigger metabolic activation of a local cancer and facilitate spread.  For all other manners of surgery, pre-surgical therapy laser treatment is a win-win for the patient.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. This will be a good pain relief for pets after going through a painful surgery. it is always good to have some inventions like this, that can ease pains.

  2. Posts on this site have always been informative and helpful. Although, I haven’t heard of anyone that has done any type on surgery on his or her pets in my community but I would definitely save this information for the future.

  3. I hate to see pets go through intense pain after surgery..knowing how to manage this pain is a good step in the right direction…spot on

  4. I have not heard any pet injured to the point of surgery in my area at least so this is something new to me. Anyway this is a good article when that times of major trauma comes. God forbid but I could bookmark it for reference.

  5. Hmmm interesting. I guess adrenaline is a thing in dogs too? I have not heard any flight or fight response for animals but if it is then it can really give them a boost. Post surgery and all. If it wears off then what do we do? Then again my pet has not been on surgery yet.

  6. Do pain relievers work on them? I usually take it after I went under the knife a few years ago. This is why we need vets because we are not all alone in this world. Animals do exist and they need care as well. Needless to say this is a very informative post for me. Thanks.

  7. I’ m not a specialist but I can tell from the reading there is hope to see a successful after surgery. Its actually more comfortable for the pet to heal.

  8. I always prefer natural remedies like this one as opposed to artificial ones. Thanks so much for making this available and looking forward to more 🙂

  9. Therapy laser application has proven to be very effective in many situations. It should be used more in post surgical pain reduction in pets.

  10. The only contraindication for pre-operative therapy laser would be tumor removals. I hope the technology gets improved to the point that this won’t be an issue anymore.

  11. The physiological response resulting from laser therapy is very natural and without adverse side effects. This is much more than I can say for many other remedies.

  12. Although not directly natural, the response effected by the laser causes endorphin production which is actually natural. So in a way the process is still natural.

  13. Laser therapy is by far the best way to deal with post surgical pain in pets. I would highly recommend it for any pet owner.

  14. Thanks for the detailed explanation of how laser therapy exactly helps reduce pain after surgery. I have learnt quite a bit from the post 🙂

  15. The Endorphins sure play a vital role in the reduction of the pain. Your explanation of how the laser brings about production of the endorphins is very well detailed. Great work.

  16. Thanks for touching on the Pain Gate theory and how it works. Very well researched and informative piece!

  17. The technique of introducing a nerve blockade as a way to deal with the pain is very smart. Kudos to researchers who came up with this amazing technique.

  18. I guess it is mainly situational. I mean if it is a visible injury then yes but for cancer for example, I think an operation should be the last course. Granted it has to be detected early. I read there is a mushroom out there that can help with it.

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