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Emerging field of veterinary rehabilitation is here to stay

In this episode:

Pet Joke of the Week: Adopted Turtle.
Personal comment: Emerging field of veterinary rehabilitation is here to stay.

Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:

In my personal comment tonight, I am excited to present to you the emerging field of veterinary rehabilitation, an approach to treating degenerative disease of the joints and spine in a non-surgical, non-intrusive way. It is such innovations as these that make the practice of medicine always novel, enjoyable, and rewarding.

So let us dive right in and talk about some of the conditions where rehabilitation is practically applicable for dogs and cats as, I think you will be surprised at how these common every day conditions may apply to your own dogs and cats. The most common disease that affects aging pets, of course, is arthritis of the joints and spine. Arthritis stems from wear and tear of the cartilaginous surfaces of the bones that comprise a given joint, that leads to inflammation, pain, and eventually degenerative changes that can be rather debilitating to affected pets. While arthritis is associated with age, it can present as an early onset in some patients due to obesity, injury, and inherited deformities like hip dysplasia. Those of us that are life long pet owners certainly have observed first hand how arthritis can cause our pets stiffness and affect mobility.

Spinal disc herniation and subsequent spinal cord and nerve root signature compression is a both a common and serous occurrence in dogs and cats, especially so in small dogs. These injuries cause pain that is often severe, can lead to neuromuscular weakness and dysfunction and even complete paralysis.

While surgery and anti-inflammatory drugs remain invaluable options for the treatment of these and other musculoskeletal diseases, there are now less invasive and far less costly approaches that may help many of these patients, the most innovative of which is the therapy laser. Pictured here (see video for image) is the Cutting Edge therapy laser I have recently added to my own animal hospital. It works by emitting low level photons to an area that has many beneficial effects. From a pain management standpoint, the therapy laser stimulates the synthesis of the body’s own natural pain reducing biochemicals, specifically endorphins and encephalin. The therapy laser stimulates muscle and trigger point providing musculoskeletal pain relief.

Accelerated healing is another benefit of the therapy laser, as photons of emitted light penetrate deeply into tissues to stimulate rapid cellular reproduction and growth. These photons also increase the amount of energy available to cells so that they can absorb nutrients while eliminating waste products faster. As a result of all of this, tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and muscle are repaired more quickly.

Another phenomenon of the therapy laser that stimulates faster healing is the opening or dilation of small blood vessels in an area. More blood supply brings in healing cells faster, accelerating the healing process while reducing the formation of scar tissue. Most importantly, the laser accomplishes all this at no risk to the patient, with little to no potential for harmful complications, not even a warming of the skin.

While the therapy laser puts damaged tissues into a cycle of healing, nutritional management provides the raw materials necessary for the restoration of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissues, while also providing additional natural anti-inflammatory relief. Nutriceuticals, as these nutritional supplements are termed, contain varying combinations of glycosaminoglycans, glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. But let me warn you, not all nutriceuticals are created equal! These products at this time are not FDA regulated, and thus are not bound by law to have what the label claims. As such, blind studies have found many joint health supplements lacking in ingredients their labels claim they have. For this reason, it is important to select veterinary grade nutriceuticals on the recommendation of you veterinarian.

So let me showcase a typical rehabilitation course. Pictured here is my dog Lulu (see video for image) who, due to her obssession with a certain armadillo in our yard, threw out her back rather badly in hot pursuit of the elusive creature, specifically in the L3-L4 region of her spine. The result of this injury was chronic recurring pain, which necessitated periodic courses of anti-inflammatory medications.

I began Lulu’s treatment regimen by starting her on the daily oral nutriceutical, Dasuquin. Each rehab treatment she receives in the clinic consists of a laser infusion in her affected area, an injection of the powerful injectable nutriceutical, Adequan, and therapeutic massage. The protocol calls for a 3 week induction phase, from which she receives 3 treatments week one, 2 treatments week 2, and 1 treatment week 3. Thereafter, Lulu moves to her maintenance phase, where she will remain on daily oral Dasuquin, and get a laser fusion/Adequan injection/therpeutic massage treatment once every 4-8 weeks as her needs dictate. Now just entering week 2, Lulu is acting as if the injury never occurred, the most mobile and pain free I have seen her in months, all without the need for anti-inflammatory drugs. Most importantly, she has once again regained her passion in life, which is to one day, catch her arch nemesis, the armadillo.

That is our show for this Thursday, February 11, 2010. Please help us continue our discussion at our blog at Comments posted there will be addressed by me live on my supplemental show Sunday evening at 4:30 PM EST at Please join us next week when I will be discussing the dangers and consequences of pet obesity.

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