Wound Healing with Laser Light Therapy

Chronic wounds are a major source of disability for many people. They are notoriously difficult to treat with standard protocols. Often chronic wounds occur on the feet and lower limbs as a result of poor circulation. Diabetes and atherosclerosis are common contributing factors. Laser therapy has been proven to speed healing and resolution of skin ulcers and chronic wounds. An analysis of the research on laser therapy allowed researchers at the University of Johannesburg to conclude:

“Low level laser therapy (LLLT) is a form of phototherapy that involves the application of low power … light to injuries and lesions. It has been used successfully to induce wound healing in nonhealing defects. Other wounds treated with lasers include burns, amputation injuries, skin grafts, infected wounds, and post-surgical wounds. The unique properties of lasers create an enormous potential for specific therapy of skin diseases.”

A triple blind study at Brigham Young University concluded that:

“The laser therapy resulted in enhanced healing as measured by wound contraction. These data indicate that laser therapy is an effective modality to facilitate wound contraction of partial-thickness wounds.”

Harvard Medical School, Department of Dermatology has been researching laser therapy extensively. In a published paper researchers state:

Our laboratory has shown that a single exposure to red or near-IR wavelengths 30 minutes after wounding can stimulate wound healing in mice. Specifically, the light appears to hasten the contraction process at the edges of the excisional wound.

In my naturopathic medical clinic I have been treating patients with a high end laser therapy machine for two years and have had the opportunity to help patients heal wounds that previously wouldn’t heal. One such patient, a 60-year-old man with diabetes, had a longstanding wound on the bottom of his foot the size and depth of two stacked toonies. After a series of treatments, the wound healed completely. Six months later, the wound remained healed, and laser therapy quickly healed up another wound that was starting. The patient was able to increase his activity level, go traveling and enjoy life again.

Laser therapy is a painless treatment used to heal tissues throughout the body too. It is an excellent way to speed the healing of back pain, sports injuries, arthritis, plantar fasciitis (foot pain), tendonitis, shoulder pain and more. It works by increasing the output of fuel within the cells. Specific wavelengths of light, emitted by the machine, can be absorbed by photoreceptors in the body’s cells. Photons are then transmuted into ATP, which is the fuel for the cells. Also, cell membranes become more permeable to nutrients. Thus, with added energy and fuel, cellular function is enhanced. Nitric oxide is also increased, which increases circulation. The net effect is less inflammation and rapid healing of tissue creating a real resolution of the problem. The results are quite visible in the case of wound healing and there has been photo documentation of many dramatic resolutions of gangrenous toes that were able to be saved from amputation.

To book a no-charge 15-minute no obligation consultation with naturopathic physician Dr. Deidre Macdonald, contact her medical practice in downtown Courtenay at (250) 897-0235. For more information about laser therapy, read the Frequently asked Question about Laser Therapy on this website or contact Dr. Macdonald via the website. 

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Sports Injuries and Laser Therapy

Want to know a secret that professional athletes use to get a competitive edge? In addition to hard work, genetics, and the will to win, many athletes have something else on their side: laser therapy.

 
Sports injury rehabilitation is all about getting back in the game quickly and with optimal functioning. Cold Laser Therapy is a fast, effective tool for the treatment of sports injuries. Over the past nine years I have helped hundreds of athletes and weekend warriors overcome injuries so that they can do their rehab exercises and return to the sports they love.

 
Laser therapy is used by professional sports teams and athletes to accelerate healing and provide pain relief. For the past decade, it has revolutionized treatment in the professional sports world including NBA, NFL, NHL and USA cycling athletes, as well as Ironman triathlon competitors, college athletes, elite runners and more.

 
Hundreds of placebo controlled studies have proven the safety and effectiveness of this physical therapy modality. For instance, tennis elbow completely resolved in 82% of acute cases in a placebo controlled study. Soccer players with sprained ankles showed much less swelling if they were treated with laser therapy vs. placebo treatment. Plantar fasciitis, a common cause of foot pain in athletes, has been shown to resolve more quickly with laser therapy. Many studies have shown that knee, back and shoulder injuries heal faster with laser therapy, a result I see commonly in my practice.

 
Pain is a symptom of injury. Laser therapy doesn’t just mask the symptoms, it treats the injury by activating and accelerating the healing process. Your pain is alleviated because the injury has improved or been cured. So don’t let injuries keep you out of the game. Get back into your fitness regime with the help of laser therapy.

 

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Shoulder Pain Relief with Laser Therapy

We don’t realize how much we use our shoulders until something goes wrong.  We use them for putting away dishes, lifting our kids, playing sports, trade work and so much more.  The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body.  It moves in more directions than any other joint.  This tremendous mobility makes the shoulder joint vulnerable to problems.  Shoulder pain is one of the most common musculo-skeletal conditions that I see in my naturopathic practice.  If you have shoulder pain, it is wise to try and determine the source of the problem and take an active role in treatment so you can get back on track as quickly as possible.  Laser light therapy is a safe, painless and effective treatment for a variety of shoulder problems.

Determining the source of the problem requires a detailed physical examination of the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, bursa, ligaments and nerves.  I can often learn a great deal through a thorough physical exam involving structural palpation, muscle testing, orthopaedic tests and measuring range of motion.  Diagnostic imaging (x-ray, ultrasound, MRI or CT) can be helpful but are not always available for people with mild to moderate injuries.

The most common conditions I see are rotator cuff problems.  The rotator cuff is a sheath that is made up of four muscle tendons:  the suprapinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis muscles.   Tendonitis can set in, the tendons can become impinged under the top of the shoulder (acromion process of the scapula) or the tendons can be partially or fully torn.  The most common tear is in the supraspinatus muscle that runs along the top / back of the shoulder, under the acromion and attaches to the top of the arm bone (humerus).   When this muscle is affected, lifting the arm up to the side is very painful or impossible.   Rotator cuff issues are often associated with bicep tendonitis and bursitis, although these conditions can occur alone.  In bicep tendonitis, the tendon becomes inflamed or fibrotic, and commonly creates a deep, throbbing ache in the front of the shoulder.  Bursitis (inflamed padding of the shoulder) can create very acute pain with raising the arm.  Tears in the labrum (cartilage cuff inside the socket) can create deep joint pain and frozen shoulder.  Arthritis, in the ball and socket joint or where the collarbone meets the shoulder, can cause pain and reduced range of motion.

What are the treatment options?  Anti-inflammatory drugs create problems with daily use.  Surgery is necessary to repair a complete rotator cuff tear, but for most other conditions the effectiveness of shoulder surgery, according to published reports, is difficult to predict at best.  Exercise and stretching are important, but may not be feasible when the shoulder is too painful to move.  Laser therapy is a very effective treatment for speeding the healing of shoulder problems.  Extensive research has shown that laser light therapy is safe and effective treatment for tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis and other issues that affect the shoulder.  It reduces inflammation, increases circulation, speeds metabolism on a cellular level, reduces fibrosis and scar tissue, and strengthens tissue.  These mechanisms result in rapid resolution of pain.  Placebo controlled studies of laser therapy for even frozen shoulder have shown significant reduction in pain and disability.   In my clinic I use a state of the art laser light therapy machine with an extra large treatment head that uses nine laser beams to bathe large areas of the shoulder in the therapeutic light.  The laser beams can penetrate deeply into the tissues to safely and effectively promote healing.  Most of my patients with shoulder issues treated with 9-12 sessions of laser light therapy heal quickly, take less pain medication and are able to resume work and normal activities.

So take care of your hard working shoulders.   With laser light therapy, stretching, and therapeutic exercise, you may be able to enjoy relief from shoulder pain.

Wondering if laser therapy is right for you? Dr. Macdonald offers a free 15-minute consultation. Contact her naturopathic medical clinic in downtown Courtenay at (250) 897-0235 or via this website.

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Neck Pain Relief with Laser therapy

We don’t realize how much we use our shoulders until something goes wrong.  We use them for putting away dishes, lifting our kids, playing sports, trade work and so much more.  The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body.  It moves in more directions than any other joint.  This tremendous mobility makes the shoulder joint vulnerable to problems.  Shoulder pain is one of the most common musculo-skeletal conditions that I see in my naturopathic practice.  If you have shoulder pain, it is wise to try and determine the source of the problem and take an active role in treatment so you can get back on track as quickly as possible.  Laser light therapy is a safe, painless and effective treatment for a variety of shoulder problems.

Determining the source of the problem requires a detailed physical examination of the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, bursa, ligaments and nerves.  I can often learn a great deal through a thorough physical exam involving structural palpation, muscle testing, orthopaedic tests and measuring range of motion.  Diagnostic imaging (x-ray, ultrasound, MRI or CT) can be helpful but are not always available for people with mild to moderate injuries.

The most common conditions I see are rotator cuff problems.  The rotator cuff is a sheath that is made up of four muscle tendons:  the suprapinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis muscles.   Tendonitis can set in, the tendons can become impinged under the top of the shoulder (acromion process of the scapula) or the tendons can be partially or fully torn.  The most common tear is in the supraspinatus muscle that runs along the top / back of the shoulder, under the acromion and attaches to the top of the arm bone (humerus).   When this muscle is affected, lifting the arm up to the side is very painful or impossible.   Rotator cuff issues are often associated with bicep tendonitis and bursitis, although these conditions can occur alone.  In bicep tendonitis, the tendon becomes inflamed or fibrotic, and commonly creates a deep, throbbing ache in the front of the shoulder.  Bursitis (inflamed padding of the shoulder) can create very acute pain with raising the arm.  Tears in the labrum (cartilage cuff inside the socket) can create deep joint pain and frozen shoulder.  Arthritis, in the ball and socket joint or where the collarbone meets the shoulder, can cause pain and reduced range of motion.

What are the treatment options?  Anti-inflammatory drugs create problems with daily use.  Surgery is necessary to repair a complete rotator cuff tear, but for most other conditions the effectiveness of shoulder surgery, according to published reports, is difficult to predict at best.  Exercise and stretching are important, but may not be feasible when the shoulder is too painful to move.  Laser therapy is a very effective treatment for speeding the healing of shoulder problems.  Extensive research has shown that laser light therapy is safe and effective treatment for tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis and other issues that affect the shoulder.  It reduces inflammation, increases circulation, speeds metabolism on a cellular level, reduces fibrosis and scar tissue, and strengthens tissue.  These mechanisms result in rapid resolution of pain.  Placebo controlled studies of laser therapy for even frozen shoulder have shown significant reduction in pain and disability.   In my clinic I use a state of the art laser light therapy machine that utilizes pads of light that can bathe large areas of the shoulder in the therapeutic light.  Then we use a high potency nine beam cold laser unit to penetrate deeply into the tissues to safely and effectively promote healing.  Most of my patients with shoulder issues treated with 9-12 sessions of laser light therapy heal quickly, take less pain medication and are able to resume work and normal activities.

So take care of your hard working shoulders.   With laser light therapy, stretching, and therapeutic exercise, you may be able to enjoy relief from shoulder pain.

For more information or to book a free 15-minute introductory consultation with Dr. Deidre Macdonald contact her naturopathic medical clinic in downtown Courtenay at (250) 897-0235 or via the website.

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Joint Pain Relief with Laser Therapy

Joint pain slowing you down?  There may be more options for treatment available than you know.  There is a relatively new physical therapy modality called laser therapy that can create rapid healing of joint problems.  It is a painless, effective therapy for the treatment of a wide array of muscle, joint, back and skin issues.  In my practice, it has been an invaluable tool for helping my patients.  Most of my patients who have utilized laser therapy for their joint problems have had relief from pain, increased range of motion, and are able to return to exercise and work   Also, in my experience, laser therapy is the only therapy that shows consistent benefit for arthritis sufferers.

This technology uses multiple laser diodes to bathe abnormal tissue with photons.  Photons are particles of energy that are absorbed by the cell.  Once inside the cells, light energy can be converted into biochemical energy to accelerate cell function.  The therapeutic light beam permits penetration of deep tissues without adversely affecting normal cells and the body’s natural tissue healing processes are enhanced.  The therapy doesn’t just mask symptoms.  It is curative and as logic dictates, symptoms resolve.

The Theralase laser device that I selected for my naturopathic medical clinic is a top of the line, Health Canada approved unit that is used in physiotherapy clinics and burn units around the world.  It has 9 laser diodes in one unit and allows for efficient, safe, powerful treatments.  Let’s look at a number of common joint problems and how they can be addressed with laser therapy:

Jaw pain:  In a published placebo controlled study, laser therapy was shown to significantly reduce pain, increase range of motion and decrease tender points in patients with MRI confirmed temporo-mandibular joint pathology.

Shoulders:  Shoulder pain can be caused by tendonitis (biceps tendonitis for example), rotator cuff injuries (often a torn supraspinatus muscle), bursitis, or deep joint problems.  Often several of these mechanisms can co-exist.  Laser therapy can effectively address each of these mechanisms and result in improved range of motion and decreased pain.  Many of my patients have also reported that they sleep better since their shoulders don’t hurt at night.

Golfer’s and Tennis Elbow:  These conditions are medically called epicondylitis,  inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the medial and lateral bumps of the elbow.  A placebo controlled study in Switzerland found that total relief of the pain and improved function was achieved in 82% of the acute cases.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (hand and wrist pain / numbness):   The treatment of this condition with laser therapy has been extensively studied.  In a review of 5 significant studies, it was found that the average success rate was 84%.  The patients had pain for an average of two years prior to entering the studies.  I have had several patients able to cancel surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome after about 9 treatments with laser therapy.

Bursitis of the hip:  This condition causes pain when sleeping on the affected side and also with activity.  It is the condition that I have found responds most consistently to laser therapy.  All the patients we have treated for this condition have improved, and I too have used it successfully for the same issue.

Knee Pain:  Osteoarthritis of the knee is a very common cause of significant disability for many seniors.  Who wants to wait until the condition is so bad that surgery is the only option?  In fact, studies have shown that with laser therapy, surgery can be avoided in many cases.  In humans, a meta-analysis of 36 randomized placebo-controlled trials found that 2-4 weeks of laser therapy offered significant pain relief compared to placebo controls.  Trials showed significant decrease in pain, reduction of swelling, increased range of motion and circulation.  Animal studies show that laser actually regenerates worn cartilage, increasing the thickness of cartilage.  Since real healing is what occurs with laser therapy, the results are sustained.  I have certainly seen the long term effects myself and in my patients.  Arthritis patients return for more treatments, but usually it is for a different joint!

Plantar fasciitis:  This painful condition affects the bottom of the foot.  I usually recommend stretches, exercises and massage for patients with this condition, along with laser therapy.  Research shows that patients report significantly less pain after a series of laser treatments.  A placebo controlled study found that the thickness of the plantar fascia was reduced.  Another study showed that 90% of patients experienced relief:  64% of patients had no pain and another 26% were significantly improved.  Unlike other treatments for plantar fasciitis, laser therapy is a painless process.

So why suffer?  Laser therapy is a safe and effective tool that can help you get back to the life you desire.  For more information about Dr. Macdonald’s state of the art laser therapy machine, click on laser therapy on her website www.getwellhere.com.  To book a free 15 minute consultation to see if laser therapy is the right treatment for you, call her medical office at 250 897-0235.

Dr. Deidre Macdonald is a naturopathic physician with a medical practice in downtown Courtenay. 

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Knee Pain Relief with Laser Therapy

 One of the most common injuries that people experience as they get older is knee pain.  You depend on your knees to stay active.  Knee pain can significantly affect quality of life when it limits the enjoyment of your favorite activities, and especially if it interferes with your sleep.  Years ago, in my naturopathic medical practice, I was struck by the lack of good options for helping people with knee pain and set out to find a treatment that would provide real and lasting pain reduction for my patients.  I too had an old knee injury that was becoming arthritic.  I was impressed by the research on laser therapy and have been delighted to find that it has helped me and many of my patients to enjoy life without knee pain.  Laser therapy has helped patients with knee problems to enjoy reduced pain, increased mobility and a return to the activities they enjoy.

Low Intensity Laser Therapy (LILT) has been used successfully as a treatment for an extensive range of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.  This painless procedure speeds the healing of tissues, including cartilage, ligaments, muscles, bursa, nerves, tendons and skin.  It enhances DNA synthesis, cell replication, cellular nutrition, circulation and has both anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.  The effectiveness of treating knee pain with laser therapy has been well established in human and animal placebo-controlled, double-blind studies.

The majority of the knee pain is due to osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear on the knee joint and affects 80% of people by the age of 65.  When cartilage begins to wear down in the knee joint, the bone begins to get exposed and irritated, sometimes causing bone spurs to form.  This breakdown can lead to sharp medial knee pain.  It is often worse first thing in the morning, after sitting or driving for a while, and going down stairs.  Swelling may be present, especially in the inner side of the knee. Baker’s cysts in the back of the knee may also contribute to pain and swelling.  With recent studies showing little benefit from arthroscopic surgery for arthritic knees, and the side effects of pain medications making them an undesirable long term treatment option, patients are left with either pain and limitation or the long wait for knee replacement.

Laser therapy is an excellent treatment choice for arthritis that has been proven to work in many well designed studies.  In animal studies, laser therapy has been shown to decelerate the arthritic process, regenerate worn cartilage, and increase the thickness of cartilage.  In humans, a meta-analysis of eight randomized placebo-controlled trials found that 2-4 weeks of laser therapy offered significant, lasting pain relief compared to placebo controls.  It was shown to be more effective than acupuncture or other physiotherapy treatments.  Another more recent clinical trial measured a significant decrease in pain, reduction of knee swelling, increased range of motion and circulation compared to a placebo group that was treated with a sham laser.

In my naturopathic medical practice, I use a state of the art Low Level Laser Therapy machine called the Theralase that utilizes a unique laser probe providing nine laser beams versus the usual one.  This higher intensity treatment is ideally suited for treating joints like the knee.

Other knee conditions that can be successfully treated by low level laser therapy include chondromalacia patella (often seen in runners), meniscus tears (pain in the inner and outer knee), rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, and ligament strains and tears (often acute sports injuries).

Over the counter and prescription anti-inflammatory medications, while providing good pain relief, come at a cost.  Sustained use of ibuprofen (Advil) increases the risk of bleeding ulcers and other gastro-intestinal side effects.  Patients looking for safer anti-inflammatories have several options.  For those who are currently dependent on anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, I will often write a prescription for a topical anti-inflammatory medicine called Diclofenac.  Numerous studies have shown that prescription strength topical diclofenac provides similar pain reduction in osteoarthritis of the knee to oral NSAIDS like ibuprofen, without the risk of stomach bleeding.   Alternatively, a natural topical cream called Traumeel was recently featured in the International Journal of Internal Medicine.  Upon review of the placebo controlled studies of Traumeel, it was concluded that “Traumeel has shown comparable effectiveness to NSAIDs in terms of reducing symptoms of inflammation, accelerating recovery, and improving mobility, with a favourable safety profile”.  Natural oral anti-inflammatories include fish oil and turmeric.  Both of these natural medicines have many side benefits instead of side effects!  One turmeric extract product called Mireva has shown to have superior absorption and effectiveness.  In a large, nine month placebo controlled study of Meriva’s effect on osteoarthritis of the knee, the Mireva group showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in range of motion versus the placebo group.  So don’t let knee pain slow you down.  With natural medicines and laser therapy, safe, painless and effective treatment is available.

To book a free 15-minute consultation with Courtenay naturopathic physician Dr. Deidre Macdonald to see if laser therapy is right for you, please call (250) 897-0235 or contact us here.

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Hip Pain Relief with Laser Therapy

Hip pain can be a real pain in the butt!  Understanding the cause of your hip pain will help you determine the best treatment for you.  There are non-surgical solutions to hip pain, even for degenerative osteoarthritis of the hip.

Osteoarthritis:

Osteoarthritis is basically wear and tear in the ball and socket joint.  The “ball” is the head of the femur (upper leg bone) and the socket is the acetabulum- a part of the pelvis.  It is important to differentiate true hip pain from other types of pain in the hip region. True hip pain is usually felt towards the front, in the groin region. It may radiate down the front of the thigh.  The most effective non-surgical therapy for hip arthritis is low level laser therapy.  It is a painless technique proven to significantly reduce the signs and symptoms of arthritis.  I have used laser light therapy since 2007 in my naturopathic medical practice and have had many patients with hip arthritis regain mobility and reduce pain dramatically.

Greater Trochanteric Bursitis:

Pain felt on the lateral part of the hip (side of the hip) is usually due to greater trochanteric bursitis. It is aggravated by walking, lying down on the affected side, and crossing the leg of the affected side. It can be painful to press on the boney part of the side of the hip.  This is the most common cause of hip pain that I see in clinical practice.  I use state of the art laser light therapy to relieve this condition.  In most cases, 8 to 10 thirty minute treatments alleviates the problem and patients can regain mobility and enjoy a good night sleep again.  There are other bursas in the hip area that can create acute pain, often in the front groin area.  Laser therapy reduces inflammation and pain in any bursitis.

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction:

The Sacroiliac joints are located at the very bottom of the back. There is one on either side of the spine. The Sacroiliac joints help make up the rear part of the pelvic girdle and sit between the sacrum and the Ilia (hip bones).  These joints provide subtle movement in the pelvic girdle when walking.  They can become malaligned, too mobile or too fixed resulting in problems with surrounding structures such as ligaments and muscles.  Therefore, sacroiliac joint problems can cause a wide range of symptoms throughout the lower back and buttocks, or even into the thigh or groin.

Classic symptoms are:

  • Difficulty turning over in bed
  • Struggling to put on shoes and socks
  • Pain getting your legs in and out of the car
  • Stiffness in the lower back when getting up after sitting for long periods and when getting up from bed in the morning
  • Aching on one side of your lower back when driving long distances
  • There may be tenderness on palpating the large ligaments which surround the joint and hold it together.

There are many approaches to relieving sacroiliac joint problems, such as chiropractic adjustments and other manual techniques to re-align the joint.  Laser therapy effectively targets the ligaments that are strained in the joint, quickly reducing pain. Strengthening the ligaments that provide the joint structure, laser therapy often creates long term results.

Piriformis syndrome:

The piriformis muscle runs across the buttock from the edge of the sacrum to the top of the femur, specifically at the greater trochanter.  If this muscle is tight, it can aggravate both trochanteric bursitis and sacroiliac joint problems.  It is also one possible cause of sciatic nerve pain that can run down the leg.  The sciatic nerve runs through the belly of the piriformis muscle, so if the muscle is tight, the nerve can become irritated.

Treatments can include stretches that target the muscle, massage for the area, and laser light therapy.  Laser light therapy increases circulation to the muscle, triples the energy output of muscle cells (ATP), causes nutrients to flood the cells, increases collagen synthesis and ultimately speeds the healing process and results in rapid resolution of muscle and ligament problems.

Referred pain from the nerves in the spine:

Pain felt in the buttock is often referred from the lower back.  Degeneration of the spinal vertebrae can result in narrowed channels for the nerves that exit the spine (spinal stenosis). Nerves can become pinched and pain can be felt both in the spine and down the buttocks and legs (as in sciatica).  Degenerated or protruding discs can also cause pressure on the nerves that affect the hip area.

In my experience only about 5% of patients truly require surgery for such problems.  Laser light therapy has been shown to significantly reduce pain from disc disease in over 90% of patients in a Canadian clinical trial.  Spinal stenosis also responds well to this treatment that is used in physiotherapy clinics across Canada.  I use a state of the art laser light therapy machine called Theralase.  Our laser probe provides a safe, high intensity treatment from nine laser beams.  Laser light stimulates cellular processes that help regenerate and heal damaged tissues.

So don’t suffer with hip and back pain.  When I assess a patient with hip pain, a detailed physical examination and medical history are critical in determining what the root of the problem is.  Then, with targeted, effective treatments, relief can often be had without drugs or surgery.  Don’t wait until it’s too late!

To book a free 15-minute consultation to see if laser therapy is right for you, or for more information about Dr. Deidre Macdonald’s naturopathic medical practice in downtown Courtenay, contact her office at (250) 897-0235 or via this web site. Most extended health plans accepted.

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Foot and Ankle Pain Relief with Laser Therapy

When our hardworking feet develop painful problems, our quality of life can be significantly affected.  Laser therapy can provide relief for people suffering from painful conditions of the feet such as arthritis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, foot ulcers and more.  Within a few weeks of treatment with our nine beam laser therapy unit, many of my patients have reported freedom from pain and a return to normal activities.

Low Intensity Laser Therapy (LILT) has been used successfully as a treatment for an extensive range of acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.  This painless procedure speeds the healing of tissues, including cartilage, ligaments, muscles, bursa, nerves, tendons and skin.  It enhances DNA synthesis, cell replication, cellular nutrition, circulation and has both anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.  The effectiveness of laser therapy has been well established in hundreds of human and animal placebo-controlled, double-blind studies.

Arthritis of the feet and ankles

Laser therapy is an excellent treatment choice for arthritis that has been proven to work in many well designed studies.  In animal studies, laser therapy has been shown to decelerate the arthritic process, regenerate worn cartilage, and increase the thickness of cartilage.  In humans, a meta-analysis of 36 randomized placebo-controlled trials found that 2-4 weeks of laser therapy offered significant arthritic pain relief compared to placebo controls.  Another more recent clinical trial for arthritis measured a significant decrease in pain, reduction of swelling, increased range of motion and circulation compared to a placebo group that was treated with a sham laser.   Using a state of the art laser machine, we have helped many people reduce pain and increase mobility in their ankles, feet and toes.  It is very rewarding to witness patients enjoying greater mobility and reduced pain and swelling after about 9 to14 treatments.

Plantar fasciitis

This painful condition affects the bottom of the foot.  I usually recommend stretches, exercises, massage and orthodics for patients with this condition, along with laser therapy.  Research shows that patients report significantly less pain after a series of laser treatments.  A study showed that 90% of patients experienced relief:  64% of patients had no pain and another 26% were significantly improved. A placebo controlled study found that the abnormal thickness of the plantar fascia was reduced.  Unlike other treatments for plantar fasciitis, laser therapy is a painless process.

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis can be an acute or a chronic injury.  In the chronic state, fibrosis prevents proper function and healing of the tendon.  Laser therapy has been shown in clinical studies to reduce inflammatory markers in the Achilles tendon and to reduce fibrosis.  Pain reduction during physical activity has been demonstrated, as has a reduction in morning stiffness.  Laser therapy is considered an effective treatment for Achilles tendonitis, and can be added to a program of eccentric contraction exercises for even better results.

 Foot ulcers

Chronic wounds and ulcers are a major source of disability for many people.  They are notoriously difficult to treat with standard protocols.  Often chronic wounds occur on the feet and lower limbs as a result of poor circulation. Diabetes and atherosclerosis are common contributing factors.  In research done at Harvard University and other institutions, laser therapy has been proven to speed healing and resolution of skin ulcers and chronic wounds.  A triple blind study at Brigham Young University concluded that:

“The laser therapy resulted in enhanced healing as measured by wound contraction. These data indicate that laser therapy is an effective modality to facilitate wound contraction of partial-thickness wounds.”

The results from this gentle laser therapy are quite visible in the case of wound healing. There has been photo documentation of many dramatic resolutions of wounds and even of gangrenous toes that were able to be saved from amputation.

So don’t let foot or ankle pain slow you down from enjoying life.  Laser light therapy is a proven treatment that may be able to help you get back doing the things you love to do.

To book a no-charge 15-minute no obligation consultation with naturopathic physician Dr. Deidre Macdonald, contact her medical practice in downtown Courtenay at (250) 897-0235. For more information about laser therapy, read the testimonials on this website. 

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Back Pain and Laser Therapy

Laser Therapy provides relief from Back Pain

Back pain affects 80% of people at some point in their life. It is a major cause of loss of work, decreased life satisfaction, reduced activity and overuse of medication. A state of the art therapy for back pain called Low Level Laser therapy, is available in the Comox Valley. This technology has brought relief to 1000s of back pain sufferers. Practitioners who use it consistently state that laser therapy is the most effective, painless and non-invasive way to reduce inflammation and control pain.

What causes back pain: Back pain can be caused by the muscles and other soft tissue or by the vertebrae and nerves. Most back pain is caused by the muscles, ligaments and tendons with muscle spasm and inflammation being present in most back issues. A common cause of vertebral back issues is degeneration of the structures of the spine, often causing pinched nerves. Spinal stenosis, or impingement of the spinal cord and nerves, can be caused by, among other things, inflammation of the ligaments which encase the spinal cord. True disc problems only account for about 5% of cases of back pain. In fact, many people’s spines have bulging discs, but they will only experience pain if there is inflammation present. Inflammation and damaged, degenerated structures account for most back pain. Therefore, treatments should aim to reduce inflammation and reverse degeneration.

Traditional treatments: The first response for many back pain sufferers is to go to their medical doctor who may order x-rays, MRI or CT. While it is essential to attempt to diagnose the source of the problem, the treatment options available to MDs are very limited. Surgery is only appropriate for about 5% of back pain sufferers. Pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs may provide some needed short term relief, but they don’t address the cause of the problem or promote tissue healing. In addition, anti-inflammatories are very hard on the stomach lining and other organs of the body. The newer COX-2 inhibitors are no more effective than the older anti-inflammatories, cause only slightly less stomach problems, and are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events. Alternatively, chiropractic manipulation can help to align and mobilize the spine and pelvis, which is very important. It is not able to directly reduce inflammation and may be uncomfortable in an acutely inflamed back. Massage is important to improve circulation, drainage and to break up trigger points in the muscles. However, it can’t treat the inflammation and tissue damage that is inherent in back pain.

Laser therapy: Laser therapy is a treatment which is scientifically proven to target the inflammation and tissue damage that cause most back pain. Whether it is used alone or in combination with other treatments, it is a very effective therapy for giving people relief from back pain and allowing them to resume their activities. The esteemed medical review panel, The Cochran Review, found five well designed scientific studies showing that laser therapy was effective for back pain. In a study tracking 100 patients with confirmed disc problems, 90% of them resolved within 14 treatments with a state of the art laser machine. In addition, laser therapy has been proven to give long term relief from arthritis pain.

How does laser therapy work: Low level laser therapy stimulates restoration of function at many levels. In essence it promotes the healing of tissues from the skin to the deep spinal structures by increasing cellular ATP (fuel) output, improving circulation and lymphatic drainage, reducing inflammatory chemicals, and promoting cellular replication and collagen synthesis. The net effect is that healing occurs on the level of the muscles, bones, ligaments, nerves and tendons and pain is reduced or eliminated.

Dr. Macdonald’s comments: “Over the 15 years I have practiced as a naturopathic physician, I have seen so many people suffer from back pain, arthritis, and joint pain. It has given me great satisfaction to now have the ability to provide relief to patients who had tried so many other therapies and yet still suffered with chronic pain. If a course of laser therapy can reduce pain and allow my patient to increase their exercise and reduce their pain medications, then I know their long term health has been positively impacted. In fact, I was one of those people. After six years and 13 different practitioners, I was still suffering from chronic back pain. Laser therapy provided relief within a few sessions. I continue to use the laser therapy to heal up all the sports injuries I incur now that I am able to exercise vigorously again! “

The Theralase difference: Not all lasers are created equal. Older technology consists of a single low powered probe. The Theralase professional cold laser uses nine laser beams that simultaneously bring the power of light therapy to tissues.  This state of the art technology has helped thousands of people relieve the pain of spinal stenosis, sciatica, degenerative spinal conditions, arthritis, neck issues and more.

For more information about booking a no-charge, no obligation 15-minute laser therapy consultation with Dr. Deidre Macdonald contact her office in downtown Courtenay at (250) 897-0235 or via this website. Dr. Macdonald is a naturopathic physician who has been practicing medicine since 1997.

FAQ about Laser Therapy

Arthritis Pain Relief with Laser Therapy

Don’t let Arthritis Slow You Down

In my years of naturopathic medical practice, I have been struck by the number of people who suffer from arthritis. In fact, it is the most common cause of disability in North America. Too many of my patients are suffering from sleep issues, chronic pain and mobility issues because of arthritis. What concerns me about arthritis is the global affect it can have on a person’s health. We know that exercise is one of the key elements of achieving a long and productive life, so if arthritis is interfering with exercise the repercussions can be profound. I have seen many patients whose heart problems can be traced back to their weight gain and lack of exercise, which are a direct result of the limitations imposed by arthritis. I have seen patients whose health is being compromised by pain killing medications that provide short term pain management but create long term health problems.

Consequently, I have been on the quest for real solutions for people with arthritis pain. Also, my own 20-year-old ski injury has resulted in a knee showing signs of early arthritis. My motivation to find effective prevention and treatment of arthritis has led me to investigate a number of safe, non-toxic therapies that have proven very effective in relieving pain, increasing mobility and reducing the need for surgery.

The current treatment options typically presented to a patient by their medical doctor will include drug therapy and eventually surgery for knees, hips and some other joints. All the prescription medicines, while providing good short term relief, have significant problems associated with long term use. Aspirin causes gastric bleeding and ear problems, Tylenol (acetaminophen) can cause hepatitis at 8 pills a day, ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen are not tolerated for long for most people before they cause digestive distress, the cox-2 inhibitors like Vioxx and Celebrex are dangerous for the heart, and many other pain killers are highly addictive and have their own problems.

Surgery of course has its significant risks, including infection, adverse reactions to anaesthetic, and surgical complications. There are typically long wait times, during which patients are left to suffer and take drugs that are not appropriate for long term care. Also, since arthritis can affect any joint, including the spine, there are instances where surgery is not available. Many of the patients I see have degeneration in many spinal segments that cannot be adequately addressed through surgery.

I counsel my patients to employ a three pronged approach to addressing arthritis. The first step is to support the proper functioning of the joint. That may mean chiropractic manipulation, stretching the joint, and most importantly, strengthening the joint by engaging the muscles around it. A weak joint needs the support of strong muscles, so as soon as possible, gentle strengthening exercises are recommended. For example, strengthening the muscles of the core abdominal region is essential to prevent and treat back pain.

Secondly, I recommend low level laser therapy. This is the one physical therapy that has been proven in numerous scientific studies to significantly reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis in a real and lasting manner. Animal studies have shown that laser treatments can stimulate repair of the cartilage in joints. I have had many arthritic patients come to my clinic for laser therapy and they have consistently received significant pain relief. Arthritic hands have responded very well to laser therapy, as have arthritic knees, shoulders and spines. Recently, a patient of mine who was recommended to have ankle replacement surgery received laser therapy and is now functioning well and has declined surgery. A meta analysis of 35 placebo controlled studies demonstrated that laser therapy reduced pain and increased mobility in osteoarthritis of the knee. Many more studies have shown similar results for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The laser treatments are painless, have no side effects, and are reasonably priced. State of the art equipment, like the Theralase laser, enhances the effectiveness of laser therapy.

The third aspect of treatment that I recommend is to take advantage of natural anti-inflammatory medicines. Examples include curcumin (extracted from turmeric), bromelain, serrapeptase, Kaprex, boswelia and more. Not only do they reduce inflammation and thus pain, this class of medicines all have side-benefits. For instance, curcumin (from turmeric) and bromelain are both cornerstones of the naturopathic medical approach to cancer treatment. Fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory if taken in larger doses like six to nine capsules per day. Fish oil has many other health benefits and I recommend it to all my patients. Glucosamine sulfate is a building block of cartilage, which is the part of the joint that gets worn in osteoarthritis. Supplements of glucosamine sulfate take time to work, but they are thought to enhance the regeneration of cartilage.

Don’t let arthritis relegate you to a life on the couch. A full, rich life may be possible with a new approach to arthritis.

For more information about laser therapy for pain, contact Dr. Macdonald’s office at (250) 897-0235, or though this website.  

FAQ about Laser Therapy