Using Laser Therapy to Treat Soft Tissue Injuries in Horses

Researchers concluded that high-power laser therapy, administered with the device tested in this study, is safe, results in fairly low reinjury rates, and affords a fairly quick return to performance.

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laser therapy to treat soft tissue injuries in horses
Researchers concluded that high-power laser, administered with the device tested in this study, is safe, results in fairly low reinjury rates, and has a fairly quick return to performance. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Niklas Drumm

Laser therapy has been a popular treatment in humans and animals since the 1960s for managing pain and healing a variety of injuries.

“While there’s a lot of debate going on about its effects, they appear to be desirable,” said Niklas Drumm, DrMedVet, Dipl. ACVS-LA, ECVS, a shareholder and practitioner at Tierklinik Lusche, in Germany. He has treated hundreds of equine patients with laser therapy at his clinic and presented the existing evidence on its efficacy at the 2018 British Equine Veterinary Association Congress, held Sept. 12-15, in Birmingham, U.K.

Most laser therapy studies have been done using low-level laser, which is popular for managing pain, healing wounds, and treating tendon injuries, said Drumm. However, he said, it’s penetration depth isn’t sufficient for treating deeper structures in horses. So he focused on what we know about high-power laser therapy, which human physicians use to treat injuries such as tendinopathies and neck and back pain in people

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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