Therapeutic Services

Laser TherapyLaser Therapy

Laser therapy is the use of light energy to stimulate healing and minimize pain. Laser treatments reduce tissue swelling and improve circulation, stimulate the immune system, relax muscles, increase tendon and wound strength, increase mobility, speed bone repair, and stimulate nerve regeneration. Absorbed into cells, laser photons increase the number and activity of mitochondria and this causes an increase in adenosine triphosphate (a coenzyme that transports energy and supports metabolic function at a cellular level) and nitrous oxide. The resulting increase in cellular activity and energy speeds tissue repair, improves tissue oxygenation and nutrition, decreases inflammation, and reduces pain.

Sports medicine professionals, physiotherapists, and veterinary researchers continue to investigate and document laser effects on specific conditions. The body of evidence documenting the positive effects of laser therapy grows daily. Evidence that laser therapy reduces inflammation as effectively as NSAID therapy in muscle, tendon, and joint disease is of particular importance in our practice. An increasing number of patients are unable to receive NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) due to concurrent disease or gastrointestinal side effects.

Typical conditions where laser therapy is indicated include:

  • Joint pain (acute or chronic)
  • Ligament or muscle strain
  • Tendinosis, tenosynovitis
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Nerve injury
  • Swelling, edema
  • Wounds, hotspots or granulomas
  • Ear infections
  • Burns
  • Post-operative tissues and incisions
  • Gingivitis
  • Anal sac disease

Pain Management

Recognizing pain and treating that pain to alleviate suffering are the very heart of compassionate patient care. Our veterinarians and staff understand that our responsibility is to advocate on behalf of those who cannot advocate for themselves. Our goal for each patient is to anticipate pain when possible, prevent or treat the pain early, then continue to manage our patient’s pain throughout treatment, recovery, or duration of life.

Some pain is adaptive. These forms of pain prevent further harm (for example not walking on a sprained ankle) or assist healing (such as inflammation). Chronic pain however is stressful, increasing your pet’s cortisol levels and blood pressure. With chronic ongoing painful stimuli, your pet’s nervous system becomes sensitized to pain, termed maladaptive pain, which greatly affects his/her quality of life. A human example would be osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Chronic maladaptive pain is now recognized not as a symptom but rather as a disease itself that affects sensory, emotional, motivational, and cognitive pathways of the nervous system. Since maladaptive pain can be self-perpetuating, the sooner pain is relieved, the less persistent and relentless the discomfort may become.

So what does pain look like in our pets? Animals in pain may decrease grooming because it hurts to do so…or increase grooming in areas because a particular spot is sore. They may move around less and sleep more because it hurts…or be restless, having trouble getting comfortable because it hurts. They may be clingy and cuddly as touch evokes release of their body’s endorphins, which are natural pain relieving substances... or they may be quiet and lethargic or aggressive. You can see that painful behavior can not only be perplexing but can be easily attributed to old age or cognitive dysfunction.

We can help you recognize signs of pain in your pet. Together we can develop a plan to safely and effectively manage that pain.

Any of the following may be part of your pet’s pain management protocol:

  • Pharmaceuticals (NSAIDs, analgesics, local anesthesia)
  • Nutriceuticals (Adequan, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, MSM)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Exercise, water therapy
  • Nursing care (massage, heat or cold therapy)
  • Acupuncture
  • Laser therapy
  • Shockwave therapy
  • Home environment modification
  • Assistive devices
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment
  • Stem cell therapy

Therapeutic ServicesAcupuncture

As part of our comprehensive, progressive approach to veterinary medicine and the care of your pet, Steele Creek Animal Hospital offers acupuncture for clients in the Charlotte, NC and York County, SC areas interested in exploring alternative healing therapies for their pets.

Acupuncture is a process that can induce positive physiologic changes through the stimulation of specific points on the body with fine, thin needles. These acupoints are located in areas with a high density of nerve endings, capillary beds, lymphatic vessels, and mast cells. Stimulation of these areas releases the animal’s own natural “pain killing” hormones, stimulates the immune system, increases circulation, stimulates nerves, relieves muscle spasms, and decreases inflammation.

Because of these beneficial effects, acupuncture is commonly used in treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, nervous disorders, immune system dysfunction, gastrointestinal disorders, skin disease, and heart and kidney conditions.

In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture has been used for at least 2000 years to balance the body’s life force, correct the energy flow, and rid the body of disease. Acupuncture is often combined with herbal therapies to maintain a healthy balance.

At Steele Creek Animal Hospital in Charlotte, Drs. Patricia Young and Damian Bracy use acupuncture frequently as part of our pain management plan for animals with acute or chronic painful conditions such as intervertebral disc disease or degenerative joint disease (hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, etc.). Acupuncture is of particular value in pets who need analgesic or anti-inflammatory improvements but where medication may be insufficient or contraindicated.

Common conditions treated with acupuncture:

  • Muscle or joint injury
  • Osteoarthritis (chronic joint pain)
  • Ligament or tendon strain
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Nerve injury or weakness
  • Seizures
  • Dental and surgical pain
  • Incontinence
  • Chronic infections
  • Non-healing wounds/granulomas
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Certain heart, kidney, and endocrine conditions

Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine includes techniques that stimulate and use the body's own natural substances to heal damaged tissue.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

PRP is a plasma sample derived from the patient with a high concentration of platelets. Platelets contain many beneficial growth factors that help connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments repair and remain healthy. PRP treatment of osteoarthritic joints is also showing positive results.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cells have the unique ability to mature into cells with specialized functions and this makes them extremely valuable for repairing certain body tissues damaged by injury or disease. We can use these cells as an effective therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs and cats.

Herbal Medicine

Herbs are plants that contain ingredients with active therapeutic properties. Herbal approaches have been developed for improving the immune system function, strengthening the body, and supporting specific organs such as the liver, kidney, heart, and brain. In certain cases, herbal medicine can eliminate the need for chronic conventional medications.

The success of herbal treatment will vary according to the age of the pet, prior treatment history, and diagnosis. Herbs can have adverse side effects and interfere with the beneficial effects of some traditional medications. For these reasons, this integrative form of medicine should be carefully directed by your pet’s veterinarian.

Shock Wave TreatmentShock Wave Treatment

We are now offering VersaTron4Paws shock wave healing technology. Shock waves are high-energy sound waves that penetrate soft tissue at a customized depth to heal injured tissues, reduce lameness, increase mobility, and relieve pain in animals.

Sound energy technology is FDA-approved and was first used to remove kidney stones in human patients more than 20 years ago. It evolved into an ideal solution for chronic musculoskeletal conditions in animals due to its ability to penetrate deeper than other technologies and deposit a large amount of targeted energy to the treatment area.

The noninvasive high-energy sound waves work at a cellular level to speed healing, reduce inflammation and swelling, and increase bone formation. Healing growth factors released from cells stimulate blood flow and improve fiber alignment. The quality of tissue healing is improved and the time until healing is complete is reduced.

We use this technology to treat chronic conditions such as:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Tendon/Ligament injuries
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Back pain
  • Chronic wounds
  • Shoulder lameness
  • Fractures

Sound energy may be used in combination with or as an alternative to surgery and anti-inflammatory medications and as part of a rehabilitation program. Results are often seen following one treatment although up to three treatments two or three weeks apart may be necessary for improvement in hard-to-treat cases. Average treatments are relatively fast and easy, typically taking no more than five to 10 minutes to complete.