Laser Therapy for the Equine Athlete

posted by Apollo Lasers on Friday, August 21, 2015

Much like human athletes, equine athletes undergo the rigors of training, which can result in a variety of orthopedic issues, from tears and tendon injuries to back problems and wounds. Today's Class IV low-level laser systems have become an essential part of the equine practice to successfully treat these injuries in the field (or barn, as it were). 

Just as in humans, low-level laser therapy can relieve pain, reduce inflammation and increase microcirculation in horses, leading to rapid restoration of function and tissuse healing. This occurs through a variety of physiologic activities that are stimulated into action through the application of laser therapy. 

In equine athletes, LLLT is used to speed the healing of lameness disorders; maintain top performance, prevent athletic injuries; and act as a part of stem cell and PRP treatment protocols. The therapy is cumulative in effect, and it's recommended that vets administer LLLT daily or every other day for several treatments. After tissue is stimulated, vets can back down to a once or twice a week transition phase, then go to a maintenance phase, particularly for chronic disorders. 

Because LLLT has low upfront costs, practitioners should be able to recoup their investment in a short amount of time. Average nationwide billing for common disorders suggests that charges range from $30 to $175 for 6- to 30-minute treatments for various conditions. 

There are four broad areas where photobiomodulation is of great benefit to the equine athlete. These are:

  1. To accelerate the rehabilitation and healing of many common lameness disorders.
  2. To maintain the peak performance within any equine athletic discipline.
  3. To prevent the occurrence or recurrence of athletic injuries.
  4. As an essential component of stem cell and PRP treatment protocols.

Combining deep-penetrating laser therapy with traditional therapeutic regimens accelerates the recovery time of many common lameness disorders in horses. Pharmacological approaches and rehabilitative physical therapy techniques, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy and underwater treadmills, complement each other to reach the unique therapeutic goal for each patient.

Several of the most common applications of laser therapy for the treatment of lameness disorders include:

  • Tendon and suspensory injuries such as tears, tendinitis and desmitis
  • Synovitis and tenosynovitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Back disorders
  • Wound healing

One of the most important aspects of equine sports medicine is the maintenance of these athletes at their highest level of performance. Deep-tissue laser therapy is an invaluable tool for this endeavor.

This article excerpt, by Ron Riegel, DVM, originally appeared here:


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Apollo Lasers are powerful, state-of-the-art portable or desktop lasers that reduce pain, inflammation and stimulate healing. The low-level laser technology safely penetrates the skin one to two inches, effectively stimulating regeneration of damaged cells and tissues. This process brings rapid h ... read more