The use of light to improve health and healing is used more often than people realise. Simply sitting in the sun is a form of light therapy. In the winter when temperatures drop, how wonderful is it to sit in a windless sunny spot, and soak up the rays?
When looking at the medical application of light therapy, the first option that comes to mind is the use of infra-red lamps. These lamps heat tissue and increase our sense of well-being. The heat also assists with relaxation and release of tight muscles. When there has been an injury, especially to tendons, heat is hugely beneficial and is used frequently on the path to recovery.
In the information era, there is much reference to the use of laser therapy. Lasers have a diverse range of functions; to read bar codes, for entertainment, laser printers that produce high-quality images, communications and medical uses. Of particular interest are medical lasers. These can be seen as surgical lasers and therapeutic lasers.
Light therapy has been researched for use in many different conditions. The wavelength, intensity and strength have been investigated and tens of thousands of research papers exist on the beneficial effects of light therapy, so called photobiomodulation therapy. In the profession of veterinary physical rehabilitation therapeutic lasers play an important role in reducing inflammation, managing pain, decreasing swelling and oedema and also stimulating tissue repair.
Light therapy can be used to enhance wound healing. Of particular interest is the use of light therapy to facilitate healing of diabetic ulcers. These sores are resistant to healing because of compromised blood supply in diabetic sufferers. Chronic surgical wounds that will not close also respond well to application of light therapy. Hot spots recover more rapidly, and light can also be applied to chronic lick dermatitis to help with their management.
Animals with osteoarthritis respond well to light therapy. The pain and inflammation diminish with regular application. Photizo manufactures compact, handheld devices for daily home use. Athletic animals (and people) also benefit from regular application of light therapy.
Any painful condition can be improved through the use of light therapy. There is a release of serotonin (the happy hormone), endorphins (the body’s own morphine), and a direct analgesic effect. Conditions to be treated include tendinopathies, cruciate ligament injury, intervertebral disc disease, even oral conditions. Older dogs, in particular, will improve. This is not an exhaustive list.
In summary, light therapy in all its forms enhances quality of life. We are, after all, Beings of Light!