Tag Archives: Rehabilitation

Canine Arthritis

Arthritis Blog_Older dogMany people assume arthritis is a condition for older, large breed dogs, however dogs of any age, size and breed can be affected by arthritic joints especially if they have sustained an injury during their growth period. Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is a breakdown in the smooth cartilage that protects the ends of the bones in a joint. Once the cartilage has worn-out, and the bones are no longer protected, pain and inflammation of the joint occurs and movement of the joint becomes limited and painful.

This condition can be debilitating, especially if dog owners fail to diagnose and manage the symptoms. Early detection and management of your dog’s arthritis can slow progression and restore function of their joints. If your dog has arthritis, you will notice changes in her movement and behavior. Signs to watch for include: walking stiffly, lameness with gait or favoring certain limbs, stiffness or discomfort when rising from a sitting or lying-down position, swollen and sore joints, pain when touched in certain areas, abnormal postures or finding certain postures uncomfortable or painful, loss of flexibility in joints, resistance to running, jumping or climbing, onset of tiredness or irritability, muscle atrophy, as well as licking, chewing or biting in certain areas.

A Canine Rehabilitation Therapist will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis for canine osteoarthritis by performing a detailed assessment of your dog. Based on this assessment, a treatment plan will be developed for your dog’s individual needs. Your Rehab Therapist can use modalities, such as laser therapy, acupuncture, ultrasound, heat and ice to help relieve pain and inflammation in the joints. Hands-on mobilization (specific technique to improve movement) of the joint can be used to reduce stiffness, relieve pain, and increase movement. This will be combined with a specific exercise program including stretching exercises to increase range of motion, and strengthening exercises to strengthen muscles surrounding the joints. Exercises are fundamental to a successful treatment of osteoarthritis by keeping muscles strong and functioning properly in order to help protect and support the joints. Furthermore, as joints become arthritic, they lose their balance receptors or proprioceptors. Balance and strength training will help improve stability around joints. A Canine Rehabilitation Therapist also plays a key role in educating dog owners on how they can modify elements in their dog’s environment and daily activities to improve their dog’s function, decrease pain and protect their joints.

Arthritis Blog2Although degeneration of the joints is part of the natural aging process, preventative measures can be taken to keep your dog’s joints functioning properly for as long as possible. Feeding your dog a healthy diet and providing her with appropriate exercise will help to decrease her chances of developing osteoarthritis by helping her maintain a healthy weight, and therefore decreasing the amount of stress on her joints. Regular exercise helps to keep muscles strong, which in turn protects joints from wear and tear.

Although arthritis is not considered curable, implementing the proper management techniques with the help of a Canine Rehabilitation Therapist can slow the progression of breakdown within the joints. A Canine Rehabilitation Therapist will help you diagnose arthritic pain in your dog, help protect their joints from damage caused by wear and tear, and maintain your dog’s mobility and minimize discomfort.

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Laser Therapy in Canine Rehabilitation

laser-with-dogLaser Phototherapy, Low Level Laser Therapy or cold laser is phototherapy involving the application of monochromatic and coherent light to injuries and lesions to stimulate the healing process. It is used to increase the speed, quality and tensile strength of tissue repair, decrease inflammation and decrease pain. Laser can treat many common disorders, acute or chronic, or can be used for acupuncture point stimulation. It can be used to treat muscle, tendon, ligament, connective tissue, bone and skin tissue.

Laser can be used in rehabilitation for large and small animals, and for both performance and companion animals. It is used for treatment of animal athletes due to the shorter recovery and thus decreased time away from sport. It can even be used on competition days for performance animals.

Low Level lasers are handheld devices that are about the size of a flashlight. The laser is placed directly over the injured area for 20-180 seconds. Depending on the size of the injured area, the laser may have to be applied 2-6 times in one treatment to cover the injured area. During the treatment time, the non-thermal photons of light emitted from the laser pass through the layers of the skin penetrating to depths of 3-4cm depending on the wavelength used. Low Level Lasers have a photochemical effect similar to photosynthesis in plants. The light is absorbed by the cells and interacts with light sensitive areas, which increases intracellular metabolism and converts usable energy into normalizing damaged or injured tissue. The laser increases blood flow to the area increasing oxygenation and bringing cells to aid in the healing process. Increased blood flow also helps clear inflammatory cells, fluids and debris from the area.

laserThe frequency of treatment is based on the type and stage of the injury or the condition being treated and how often the animal can attend treatment. Usually during the acute phase of healing the treatment is more often, but during the chronic and rehabilitation phases the treatment frequency is decreased.

There are only a couple of considerations of safety with laser treatment. Lasers are potentially harmful to the eye, but it is highly unlikely, especially with the use of safety glasses. Also, there is a potential for discomfort or a minor burn at the site of treatment when used on dark-skinned or dark-haired animals. This is avoided with a change in the duty cycle of the probe to 50% reducing the average power of the light beam and minimizing the risk of minor burns or discomfort.

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