Osteoarthritis /Arthritis /Degenerative Joint Disease
Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs and cats. It is the loss of cartilage within a joint. The gradual decrease of this protective cartilage can result in painful bone-on-bone contact and a thinning of the synovial fluid which helps cushion the joint.
Pain from osteoarthritis unnecessarily takes the play out of millions of pets every year. Fortunately, our advanced understanding of osteoarthritis, its causes, symptoms and treatments has helped thousands of pets back on their paws and out walking, running and playing again. Canine arthritis is the most common form of chronic pain in dogs today and the biggest reason dogs slow down as they age. Through medical management and advanced therapeutic techniques we can help control the pain of arthritis, restoring the willingness to play and slowing progression of the disease.
Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint and is the leading cause of hip osteoarthritis. Options for surgical intervention include total hip replacement, femoral head osteotomy, and triple pelvic osteotomy. Physical rehabilitation and other modalities can help alleviate the pain from hip dysplasia as well as enhance recovery from surgery.
The ideal treatment for muscular back pain is Class 4 laser therapy which will relieve discomfort almost immediately. However, it may take multiple treatments to completely resolve the discomfort.
The most common pain related to cancer is that associated with osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Osteosarcoma induces pain by multiple mechanisms. The key to success with osteosarcoma pain control is early intervention and a combination of oral and intravenous drug therapy. We have had wonderful success with pain control in our osteosarcoma patients with this combined therapy.
Internal disease pain
Many diseases cause mild to moderate pain, or maybe just a sense of pain “feeling bad”. It is necessary to make sure that any patient with an organ-related disease is kept comfortable. Pain will make full recovery slow or even impossible. It is important to remember that there is a whole patient associated with the diseased portion, and every patient should be examined and treated for concurrent pain, such as that associated with dental disease, joint disease, and back pain need to be taken into account.
Our practice, in conjunction with our sister practice, Animal Emergency Care Centers. treats traumatic pain quite frequently. There are many different ways to treat/control traumatic pain, however, they usually start with an injectable medication, underneath the skin or as an IV infusion in the hospital. Every patient has specific needs and is treated as an individual based on the extent of the trauma and the patients’ underlying medical status.
The control of postsurgical pain typically begins presurgically. The more pain which can be prevented, the easier it is to keep patients comfortable after surery. Surgical pain is best treated via multiple modalities include the administration of pain medications (such as opioids and son-steriodial anti0inflammatories) as well as local and regional anethesia techniques (such as epidurals). The exact combination of modalities depends on the patient and procedure.
Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord which results in hind limb weakness, ataxia (lack of coordination), and eventual paralysis. Degenerative myelopathy is not typically painful by itself but there may be pain related to other problems, especially muscular back pain due to the abnormal gait. Although there is no cure for degenerative myelopathy, the pain associated with this disease is easily controlled. Additionally, there are multiple interventions including nutrition, physical rehabilitation, and autologous (a dog’s own) stem cell therapy which may help slow the progression of the disease and keep the dog more functional.
Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE)
Fibrocartilaginous embolism is a condition in which the blood supply to the spinal cord is interrupted, resulting in an acute onset of severe neurological deficits, including paralysis. The rate and extent of recovery depends on the degree of injury to the spinal cord. There are various degrees of pain associated an FCE. The location, extent of pain and degree of dysfunction help determine the type of pain control needed.
Intervertebral Disc Disease
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), the protrusion or extrusion of one or multiple discs between the vertebrae, is a common cause of weakness and back pain in dogs. Major trauma can cause an acute extrusion of disc material, but it is more likely to be secondary to an underlying degeneration of the disc. IVDD can be treated non-surgically in some cases. Non-surgical intervention usually includes corticosteroids (like prednisone), acupuncture, therapeutic laser and possibly other anti-inflammatory approaches, in addition to massage and physical rehabilitation. As episodes become more frequent or more severe, immediate surgery may be necessary. Postoperative pain control typically involves anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids, in addition to physical rehabilitation.
Sports injuries (strains, sprains, muscle soreness) are common in athletic, agility, and working dogs. Our data indicates that 85% of dogs whose handlers think they are normal have significant gait abnormalities on computerized analysis as well as some well-definable pain and physical exam. Some sports injuries require surgical intervention. Many are treatable with non-drug approaches, nutraceuticals, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and therapeutic laser. Every athlete is an individual. As such, so is the therapy for a specific problem.
Some dogs have pain in many places but there is not a specific known cause. These patients frequently have some degree of abnormal spinal cord processing of signals resulting in problem, or maladaptive pain. Fortunately, there are many therapies available to help these patients regain normal or near levels of comfort and function.