Laser therapy for pain relief

You can feel better!

Laser therapy is a high-tech solution for people suffering from spinal, joint and muscle pain. It is a painless therapy that promotes rapid recovery from acute and chronic pain. It is a highly effective treatment backed by extensive scientific study. Thousands of people no longer live with pain thanks to laser therapy.

You don’t have to live with pain. Dramatic healing can be seen when laser light is applied to wounds such as diabetic leg ulcers, large bruises, burns and other stubborn wounds. The same tissue healing can be felt for people suffering from arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, ligament and tendon issues, disc herniation, bursitis, plantar fasciitis, post-surgical recovery and more.

Our Theralase Low Intensity Laser Light Therapy system does not heat or cut tissue, unlike high-intensity lasers. Many pharmacological treatments just temporarily mask pain. Laser therapy treats the underlying condition by promoting rapid healing of damaged tissues. This means that not only are the treatments effective in reducing pain and restoring function, the benefits of laser therapy are long lasting, too.

“Light has a way of creating a physiological change within the cells, which leads to positive changes and promotion of healing, anti-inflammatory effects, improved blood circulation, increased lymphatic flow, and edema reduction.”
Donald Chu, Director of Rehabilitation and Athletic Training at Stanford University

Laser Therapy FAQ’s

  • What conditions are laser therapy used for?

    Laser therapy can be used to treat a broad range of medical conditions, including musculoskeletal problems, arthritis, sports injuries, wounds, chronic and degenerative conditions, and dermatological problems. Click below to learn more about how laser therapy can help your condition:

  • How does it work?
    More than 1,200 scientific studies have been done on laser therapy over the last 50 years. Excellent results are being achieved, particularly with new breakthroughs in the technology. The laser machine Dr. Macdonald uses is truly state of the art. Unlike most single-laser machines, the Theralase Laser Light system has nine laser beams in a single probe allowing it to quickly and safely accelerate the healing process. The Theralase laser device used in Dr. Deidre Macdonald’s naturopathic medical clinic is Health Canada approved and is used in hospital physiotherapy clinics, sports medicine clinics and burn units around the world. This technology emits specific, scientifically tested wavelengths of light that bathe abnormal tissue with photons. Photons are particles of energy that are absorbed by cells, causing a number of positive physiological responses. In essence, light energy is converted into biochemical energy. The therapeutic light beam permits penetration of deep tissues without adversely affecting normal cells. The body’s natural healing processes are enhanced and tissues heal. The process is curative as opposed to just suppressing symptoms.
  • Advantages of low-level laser therapy

    Advantages of low-level laser therapy The laser light therapy is non-invasive, painless, non-toxic, and highly effective with no known side effects.Numerous scientific studies have pinpointed the mechanism by which it speeds healing. The specific wavelengths of light used by this system cause the following effects:

    • Improved cellular energy and metabolism
    • Reduced inflammation
    • Reduced edema
    • Reduced fibrous tissue formation
    • Improved lymphatic drainage
    • Increased ATP production
    • Faster cell growth, leading to faster repair of injured tissue
    • Enhanced DNA production; protein building blocks of tissue are substantially increased
    • Facilitation of nerve function
    • Modulation of macrophages, fibroblasts and other important cells for tissue remodeling
    • Formation of new blood vessels improving blood supply to healing tissue
    • Flood of nutrients into cells
  • How long does a treatment take?
    Treatments generally last 30 minutes for one area, or 45 minutes for two small areas or one large area – such as one hip or the lower back. The treatments are generally done three times a week. Sometimes in acute injuries, the treatments can be done more frequently.
  • How many treatments might I need?
    The number of treatments will vary with regard to the individual problem, as every patient and condition responds to laser therapy uniquely. In a recent clinical report on more than 1,000 patients treated with the laser therapy system, patients averaged slightly less than 10 treatments to resolve their condition. In some patients, one treatment is sufficient; however, on average, three to 25 treatments are required. In some cases, additional maintenance treatments may be recommended.
  • When might I start to see positive results?
    According to a study tracking 1,000 patients treated with top quality laser therapy , 60% of patients feel benefits after six treatments and a further 20-30% go on to have significant benefit from this therapy. Occasionally, patients feel benefits after the first treatment, and some people feel improvement within three to five treatments.
  • Is laser therapy safe? Can it cause cancer?
    Hundreds of research studies have shown laser therapy to be safe and effective. Laser therapy is non-invasive, non-toxic and non-thermal. Unlike other forms of radiation, Laser therapy is beneficial rather than harmful to tissue. The wavelengths of light used in laser therapy are even safer than sunlight and they certainly can not cause cancer.
  • Are there any contraindications?

    Yes. Laser therapy should be avoided in the following instances:

    • Over the womb for women in their first trimester of pregnancy
    • Over cancerous tumors
    • Directly over tattoos, the thyroid or the thymus gland
    • Patients taking photosensitizing medication
  • Are there any side effects?
    Occasionally, patients experience some achiness for 24 hours after a treatment. This response indicates that the patient is highly responsive to laser therapy and signals that their tissues are being stimulated by the therapy. If this occurs, use ice or pain medications and let the therapist know. The therapy will be adjusted slightly to find the most beneficial settings for the individual.
  • Is the Theralase system a well-established laser therapy machine?
    The Theralase Laser Light system used in Dr. Deidre Macdonald’s naturopathic medical clinic is Health Canada approved and is used in hospital physiotherapy clinics, sports medicine clinics and burn units around the world. Theralase equipment is the favoured laser unit and is used by an increasing number of physicians, physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, veterinarians, naturopathic physicians and dentists across Canada, the United States, Europe, South America and Asia.
  • How is the Theralase Laser different from other laser machines typically found in medical clinics?
    The Theralase Laser Light system used in Dr. Deidre Macdonald’s naturopathic medical clinic produces a safe, non-heating laser, unlike some lasers used for hair removal and some skin conditions. Also, our laser machine is more than just a single-probe laser. Treatments are significantly enhanced by their unique nine laser treatment head.  No other laser packs as much power in one treatment head, allowing for safe and efficient acceleration of healing.
  • For acute injuries, at what point should one start laser therapy?
    Why suffer any longer than you have to? It is best to start laser therapy as soon as possible after an injury. Laser therapy helps heal acute injuries in at least half the time they would normally require. You’ll return to activities faster, with less scar tissue build up and fewer compensatory injuries.
  • Can I do other therapies or exercise along with laser therapy?
    You can keep up any exercise you had been doing prior to treatments, but it is not advised to start a new exercise or engage in unusual activities, as they may make it harder to assess the progress of your treatments. Massage therapy is particularly complementary to laser therapy. Dr. Macdonald can perform massage therapy on the same day as your laser treatments or you can use another therapist. It may not be the best time to start other types of therapy since it will be hard to track which one is causing the benefits (or side effects). But if you regularly see a chiropractor for instance, it is fine to continue treatment.
  • For chronic pain, can laser therapy still work if other therapies have not?
    Most patients who come for laser therapy have, as they say, been around the block. And they still get better! Laser therapy is uniquely effective at truly healing areas of pain, degeneration and inflammation. Just because other therapies have failed, don’t give up hope. Hundreds of studies have shown that laser therapy is an effective tool for long-term issues such as back pain, joint issues and wound care.
  • Can laser therapy really help arthritis?
    Yes! Don’t believe that the only treatments for arthritis are drugs or surgery. We have helped hundreds of people with arthritis.  See our testimonials below. Laser therapy has demonstrated its effectiveness at helping people with arthritis in more than 50 clinical trials. Animal studies have shown that laser therapy actually stimulates the regeneration of cartilage in arthritic joints. To learn more, read this article
  • What can laser therapy do for athletes?

    Laser therapy is currently being used by a number of sports teams and professional athletes; the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Miami Heat, the Canadian National Ballet Company, along with many other high-performance organizations, utilize the technology as the basic treatment platform for their athletic injuries. Laser therapy helps athletes to recover from acute injuries and it also helps recovery from intensive training regimes. Some athletes who use laser therapy include:

    • Tiger Woods
    • Harvey Stables
    • Donovan Bailey
    • Damon Allen
    • Vince Carter
    • Mark Washington and many more.
  • What are the fees for laser therapy?
    The first visit with Dr. Macdonald is a complimentary 15-minute consultation to see if laser therapy is right for you. She’ll listen to your concerns, examine you and outline a treatment program for you. She’ll let you know which of the following appointments you’ll need to get the most out of your treatments.  30 – minute treatment = $48 (generally one small area, such as a wrist, shoulder or wound)
    45-minute treatment = $88 (two small areas or one large area such as a hip or the lower back)
    60-minute treatment = $128 (three small areas or one large and one small)
  • Is laser therapy covered by extended health insurance or MSP?
    Extended Health Plans often cover some or all of the fees for naturopathic visits. Contact your extended health carrier to determine how much is covered per visit and per year. We recommend inquiring about all the “fine print” regarding reimbursement. Patients are responsible for submitting their receipts to their insurance companies for reimbursement. MSP (Medical Services Plan of B.C.) normally does not cover the services of a naturopathic physician. If you are on their Premium Assistance Program, which subsidizes the MSP premiums of low-income people, then you are eligible for a $23 reimbursement for up to 10 treatments. Those 10 treatments also include visits with chiropractors, massage therapists and physiotherapists.
  • What if I’m not sure that laser therapy can help for my condition?
    Dr. Macdonald offers a complimentary 15-minute consultation to see if laser therapy is right for you. She’ll listen to your concerns, examine you, and discuss your treatment options with you. Once you have all the information you need, then you can decide if you wish to embark on a series of treatments. Contact us to get started!
  • How do I get started?
    Contact Dr. Macdonald’s office to set up a no-cost 15-minute consultation to see if laser therapy is right for you. Dr. Macdonald will listen to your concerns, examine you, and discuss your treatment options with you. You can call her office in downtown Courtenay at 250 897-0235 or click here to email.



I have arthritis in my left knee, and was having trouble sleeping some nights. My job requires that I do a lot of walking. On the advice of a friend, I decided to try laser therapy. My friend recommended Dr. D. MacDonald. After a few weeks of treatments, I am not having so much discomfort and my mobility has vastly increased.

Ron Barker

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Four years ago I fell and injured my hip. The pain was steadily becoming worse and restricting my mobility. I read about Dr. Macdonald’s laser treatments. After two months the pain is gone and I’m going for walks and looking forward to camping season.

I enjoyed going for treatment because all the staff is so friendly and helpful. They make you understand everything they are doing.

Thank you Dr. Macdonald and staff.
Sharon Longland – 64 yo

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Dr Macdonald, I want to thank you for making me feel so much better. I had suffered for more than three years with an intensely painful neck issue. I was already sure I had tried everything available to me for relief. My Laser Therapy treatments ended many months ago and I am thrilled to say that I remain free of the severe pain and enjoy full mobility (finally) in my neck. I continue to express my story to others I speak with about the success of my treatments with you. I am a believer and fan of this therapy and want to say thank you so very much….life is good once again!

Jack Kachenko, Comox


I was helping a friend with some work he was doing with a small portable saw mill.

A log rolled off and I jumped over it to get out of the way of it. I landed on my back on the metal log lifter. This is not a WCB injury. Over the next 2 ½ months I had increasing pain in my left shoulder. Then, I started having radiating pain up into the left side of my neck. This pain caused me to have difficulty sleeping as I could not get comfortable. After three weeks of my neck discomfort, I went to a chiropractor for approx 15 visits. He treated me for a rib dislocation and felt that it was causing my shoulder and neck problem. He gave me several exercises to do to regain some range of motion in my shoulder. The neck pain was alleviated from the chiropractic treatments but my shoulder didn’t get any better.

I couldn’t wash my hair with my left hand and had to put my jacket on left hand first. The range of motion was very limited. My wife read an article about Laser Therapy – being in so much discomfort –I was willing to try anything.

I went to see Dr D. MacDonald and she felt laser treatments would help. I noticed a dramatic difference after three treatments. The pain was diminishing and the range of motion was improving. After nine treatments I was able to wash my hair with both hands and put my jacket on normally- The range of motion was 85-90%. I had a total of 12 treatments –it has been over 4 weeks since the last treatment. The range of motion is about 95% and I have no pain at all. It worked for me & I’m glad.

Sue & Mia were both great and made the appointment time pleasant. Dr MacDonald examined my shoulder after every third treatment and seemed happy with the progress.

Ralph Thompson

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My name is Rosanne Gerritsen and I’m 38 years old. I went to see Dr. MacDonald several months ago about a few health issues I had. One of my issues was a general feeling of stiffness in my hands. My hands first became stiff about 5 years ago, during the pregnancy of my first child. The stiffness progressed gradually to the point where I was getting quite concerned about it. Previously, my family doctor had sent me to a rheumatologist who told me that it was likely I was developing osteo-arthritis. The stiffness in my hands was preventing me from doing small motor activities, like fastening buttons, sewing, hand-writing and playing piano. It wasn’t terribly painful, but everytime I moved my hands in any way, I would notice it. I would be constantly bending and flexing my hands to try to stretch out my joints. One other annoying symptom was that my hands became tingly and numb during the night and it would often wake me up out of my sleep. I was taking glucosamine and omega 3 supplements, which seemed to help a little bit. But I was looking for a more dramatic treatment.

Dr. MacDonald suggested I try laser therapy on my hands. I agreed, thinking I had nothing to lose (except the fee!) I had 17 sessions in total. I didn’t notice any changes until after the 5th or 6th treatment, where I began to feel a lessening of the stiffness. After every treatment thereafter, I noticed a definite decrease in the stiffness. I estimate that my hands became about 60-70 % less stiff than they were! I was really ecstatic! There were no side effects and the actual treatments themselves were quite relaxing. And the nighttime numbness and tingling I was experiencing completely disappeared, which was a major benefit! When you can get a good night’s sleep, everything looks better in the day! My hands felt good enough that I decided I could stop the treatments after 17, although I think perhaps if I had a few more, it may have completely wiped out the stiffness. I can move my hands much better now and the best part is that I am not thinking about my hands all day!

I recommend anyone try laser therapy. It was definitely worth the cost and time for me to get my hands back!! I was pleased with all the follow-up I received as well. It’s obvious Dr. MacDonald and Mia (my laser therapist) care about their patient’s well-being and I felt I had a lot of support during the process. Thank you so much!!

Rosanne Gerritsen
38 yrs.


Four weeks ago I was in constant pain in my hands. Day after day, I complained of my aches to my dear husband. I sat and rubbed my hands with every cream on the market, popped Tylenol daily to only get light headed effects. I wanted my hands chopped off at times, already. Thanks to my daughter Koreen ( who is a patient of Dr. Deidre MacDonald herself ) noticed and inquired about Laser treatments for Pain. Koreen made an appointment for me and I was glad to try anything at this point. Tears came very easy to me, due to pain that I was constantly encountering. I started 70 minute treatments the next day. It’s a pain free, relaxing and the two most lovely ladies performing the treatment. After the second treatment I felt an improvement, after the fifth, the pain was 60% gone, and after the eighth 85% gone, no more Tylenol, constant rubbing, sleepless nights, life is almost normal again. What a wonderful relief, I’m truly grateful that these laser treatments and Dr. MacDonald has made my life pain free.

Thank you to all.

Very satisfied patient
Paulette Gurak

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Your recent note about the upcoming seminar prompted me to take the time to say thank-you for lasting results. About 3 months ago I re-injured my elbow doing some rather robust restacking of flour bags and cases around our commercial bakery. Bursitis was diagnosed. This is a repeat injury to the same elbow once injured and treated with anti-inflamatories and anti-biotics two years ago. I lead a very physically active worklife around the bakery and with some friends who own a sawmill and a dairy farm. Injuries to us in these workplaces are more than annoying and often greatly impact our effectiveness.

After your diagnosis, and with approx. 3 weeks of frequent treatment the bursitis condition was virtually 98% gone. Some very minimal residue was felt in the elbow but definitely the joint was fully healed. All this while I remained in a very active role at our bakery and as I helped in the community projects. Today as I write this the injury is a memory; no pain, no loss of strength or range of motion. And I would note that during the treatments, and by your recommendation I returned to our family doctor to check on whether she felt it would be prudent to drain the bursa inflammation and her comments were simple and direct. “why penetrate a healthy body that is healing and being carefully treated and potentially introduce a wound that could cause infection?” Thank-you for introducing my wife and I to this method of therapy. Rest assured I’ve been sharing my results with all my fellow workers.

Best regards

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I have had four injuries to my right knee in the past. I still was able to do most things but not without pain. After 6 treatments with the low level laser, I am pain free and have remained so for 2 ½ months. I had bursitis in my right hip and was not able to lie on either side, but after 6 treatments I am pain free and have remained so for 2 months. The treatments were very relaxing and the staff was very friendly and considerate.

Joan E.
75 yo


I suffered with neck arthritis and limited neck rotation.  I did nine treatments with laser therapy which resulted in restored full neck rotation and reduction in the arthritic pain around the back of my neck.  The benefits have stayed for over a year now.

Ross Cowen, 71


I had lower right back pain and sciatica for two years.  There was sharp pain in the “wallet pocket” area.  I was greatly helped by eight treatments with laser therapy.  I tested the treatments by going golfing after four treatments and golfed weekly thereafter.  I have had no reoccurrence of the sharp back pain. Overall, I’m very satisfied with my results and Dr. Macdonald’s staff’s caring approach to treating me.

Ross Cowen, 71

I received laser treatments for stenosis of my spine which really helped alleviate my symptoms. You and your staff always greeted me with smiles and put me at ease the minute I walked through the door. Thank you so much.

Margaret Palmer – age 69