Arthritis is defined as painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. It involves the breakdown of joint cartilage that protects the bone which leads to pain and inflammation. It may be the result of a genetic predisposition, constitutional factors (such as age), or biomechanical factor (working/sport animals, muscle weakness, misalignment, etc.).
Arthritis usually develops slowly over time and may not be noticeable until there is severe damage to the cartilage. When the cartilage breaks down, the bones rub together, and the pet begins to display some of the symptoms of arthritis:
Traditional treatment for arthritis involves the use of anti-inflammatory and pain medications to keep the pet comfortable. Corticosteroids and non-steroidal medications can reduce pain and inflammation in pets suffering from arthritis. Unfortunately, they can cause further damage to
the articular cartilage, resulting in a vicious cycle. Also, they are not aimed at slowing down the degeneration or progression of arthritis over time.
Surgery can be beneficial to limit the complication of arthritis that develops when a joint is unstable for a long time such as an ACL injury or luxating patella. Surgical intervention is also used for severe cases of arthritis such as a total hip replacement procedure.
Besides treating the arthritis, make sure to address the pet’s lifestyle and diet. Obese and even mildly overweight pets have more mobility problems. It’s no secret that extra pounds add pressure to joints, but fat cells also cause more inflammation. A grain-free diet is recommended because it does not have fillers and grains. Carbohydrates should be avoided since they promote inflammation and aggravate an already inflamed joint.
Bicom therapy was developed in Germany. It utilizes a computer and electromagnetic frequencies to provide therapy and address the pain. It also helps to slow down the progression of the arthritis. It is a safe, non-invasive therapy that helps the body to heal itself.
Laser therapy (medical grade class IV) uses a laser beam to reduce pain, increase blood flow, decrease inflammation and promote healing. It is a powerful and holistic method to treat and support arthritic conditions.
Acupuncture provides not only pain relief but also reduces inflammation and support the entire body’s healing process. Pets accept this type of therapy easily.
Animal Chiropractic care promotes proper alignment of a pet’s musculoskeletal structure to make sure that every joint has full range of motion. Then, the nerves that come out from the spinal cord will be able to function better.
Nutritional supplements and Herbs are an essential component of the healing process. The body needs specialized food for individual cells and tissues to help the body heal. Nutritional supplements support the bones and joints, helping them withstand physical wear and tear due to aging. Regular use can help reduce pain as well as the need for pain medications.
These holistic treatments can be very helpful in pets with arthritis – regardless of the severity or the joints involved. These therapies can be done separately or together and can be combined with medications and/or surgery to obtain the best possible care. As always, prevention is the best choice, so even if your pet does not have current symptoms it may be the best time to evaluate his needs.
"Years ago when all other vets gave up on my older dog Katy, Dr. Strickfaden got her back to agility competition form with acupuncture. I'm a big fan!"
- Betsy F., Green Lake