What is Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of cartilage and bone. In arthritic animals, the cartilage in the joints breaks down faster than it can repair. This affects the normal joint stability and lubrication which results in joint pain. As the disease progresses new bone forms around the joints which causes more pain. Because arthritis is a painful condition it is important that it is treated.
We often think of arthritis as a disease of older people and animals but this isn't always the case. Arthritis can occur in younger animals secondary to other joint issues. Examples of this are:
- Obesity - overloading normal joints will eventually cause arthritis on it's own.
- Joint infections or injury - e.g. trauma, cruciate ligament damage.
- Joints not forming properly - e.g. hip or elbow dysplasia, bent or bowed legs
Arthritis is a progressive and incurable disease which means that as your pet gets older, the arthritis will get worse. For this reason we practice 'arthritis management' to try and minimise changes and keep pets pain free and mobile for as long as possible.
What are the signs of Arthritis?
The typical signs of arthritis are stiffness and lameness. Some dogs and cats may limp, others may only show mild signs of stiffness after getting up in the mornings, or may have difficulty jumping or getting up steps or into the car. Affected joints may also appear swollen and hot and will have a reduced range of movement.
How do we diagnose Arthritis?
The symptoms will often give us a good idea that your pet may have arthritis. We will then watch your pet move and examine all of the joints. It's important to also look for other problems that may also contribute to your pet slowing down such as heart disease so a full physical examination will always be carried out.
X-rays are often required to confirm that it is just arthritis affecting the joints and to check for conditions requiring a surgical intervention such as cruciate disease or spinal disorders. X-rays also allow us to determine which joints are involved enabling us to target specific therapies in certain cases.
How do we treat Arthritis?
Although arthritis can’t be cured, there are lots of ways we can help your pet to relieve the arthritic pain and suffering.
Typically we look at 5 ways to help, A, B, C, D and E: