Arthritis is also called osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. It is a chronic progressive condition which usually has the following features:
- loss of cartilage
- boney spurs
- thickening and fibrosis of the tissues surrounding the joint.
Arthritis can be caused by
- old age wear and tear
- an injury
- a congenital disease eg hip dyplasia,
- auto immune disease
Your vet may use a variety of tests to make a diagnosis of arthritis. This commonly includes physical examination and xray but other more specific tests may be required
Signs of arthritis include:
- Difficulty rising
- Decrease in willingness to exercise
- Persistent or intermittent lameness
- Unwillingness to jump
- Less grooming (cats)
- Muscle wastage
- Joint thickening
Arthritis is a progressive disease so the aim of treatment should be initially to improve overall wellbeing and mobility and then to slow progression of disease.
A multi modal approach achieves the best results compared with relying on one medication.
This can be achieved by use of supplements +/- medication +/- mixed modalaties (see below)
Arthritis should not be considered a set and forget disease. The progressive nature of the disease means your pet should be regularly seen by your vet so treatment can be fine tuned. This will result in the best quality of life for your furry friend.
Conservative treatments offered by Balance Vet Rehab that may be beneficial for these pets include:
The benefits of water therapy for patients with osteoarthritis are well documented.
A pain free modality which can be part of the multi modal approach to treating pain in dogs with arthritis.
Effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials Vavken, Patrick et al
Most of my pets with arthritis receive manual therapies. It can be difficult to treat longstanding severely arthritic joints with manual therapies. There are however, many benefits in treating secondary compensations which generally respond well.
Effects of orthopaedic manual therapy in knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis Shahnawaz Anwer et al
Also helpful for reducing pain locally in the affected joint and in the healthier areas that are compensating.
Effectiveness of combined acupuncture and manual therapy relative to no treatment for canine musculoskeletal pain David M. Lane et al
Acupuncture for peripheral joint osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis Y. D. Kwon et al
This isn't easy in a wriggly pet and does take longer to set up than regular acupuncture so it is not my first choice for most arthritic patients. But worth considering in the right situation.
Electro-Acupuncture is Beneficial for Knee Osteoarthritis: The Evidence from Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials Na Chen
Lots of conventional veterinary practices are now also using laser treatments as part of their toolkit to deal with pets with arthritis.
The effect of low-level laser in knee osteoarthritis: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Hegedus B et al
Shockwave (COMING SOON)
A newer therapy where the studies seem to be catching up with the positive clinical outcomes which are occurring when treating arthritis with shockwave therapy
Effect of Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Versus Intra-articular Injections of Hyaluronic Acid for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis June-Kyung Lee et al
Radial shock wave therapy in dogs with hip osteoarthritis Alexandre N. A. Souza
A home exercise program is a simple affordable tool to have to treat arthritis. It can be modified for time poor owners and still reap benefits in dogs with arthritis.
Effect of therapeutic exercise for hip osteoarthritis pain: Results of a meta‐analysis Gabriela Hernández‐Molina et al
Effects of caloric restriction and a moderate or intense physiotherapy program for treatment of lameness in overweight dogs with osteoarthritis Evamaria Mlacnik et al