has a 7-year-old golden retriever named Pal that has
been diagnosed with arthritis in his elbows. Pal is very
stiff in the front legs in the morning when first
arising and is reluctant to jump in and out of his spot
in Kenís truck.
has been dealing with this problem for six or eight
months and currently is not being given any treatments
for the arthritis. His main concern is whether or not to
allow Pal to exercise. Will it be harmful to his
arthritis? Pal certainly wants to exercise but Ken does
not want him to do so if it would be harmful.
is by definition, inflammation of one or more joints in
the body. Joints are very specialized junctions between
bones that allow for bending in various directions. We
are all familiar with elbows, wrists, ankles, knee,
shoulders, hips ó these are all joints and there are
many others. Without these intricate structures our
companions would not be able to move.
joints have within them a special tissue called
cartilage that covers the bones inside the joint to
cushion between them and allow smooth movement, one bone
against the next. Also found within the joint is a
wonderful fluid appropriately called joint fluid. This
stuff acts as a lubricant, like oil for your joints.
can occur for many reasons. If a companion is born with
joints that do not fit together properly, there will be
an abnormal wear within the joint causing inflammation
and pain. Over time, this process being progressive, the
joint will show secondary changes that result from this
chronic inflammation. This is called secondary joint
disease and adds to the pain of arthritis alone.
question concerning exercising when there is arthritis
affecting certain joints is a good one. On the surface
it may seem logical to avoid using joints that are
arthritic; however quite the opposite is true. If a
definitive diagnosis of arthritis has been made in one
or more of your companionís joints, exercising that or
those joints can be very beneficial.
those of you with companions that have arthritis have
noticed that as your companion begins to "warm
up," the pain and stiffness in the arthritic
joint(s) begins to disappear. This is because as the
joint is used, the fluid within the joint is circulated
and adds more protection to the joint, and thus less
pain. The inflammatory process is muted and the joint(s)
arthritic joints also has another benefit. The more the
joint is exercised, the less secondary joint disease
will develop. Once secondary joint disease develops, it
becomes increasingly more painful to use the affected
joints and the companions become less willing to use
them. Using these joints through exercise is still
beneficial but it is much harder on the patient.
point of importance I just briefly touched on earlier
deals with diagnosing arthritis. Never under any
circumstances should a diagnosis of arthritis be given
without actually diagnosing this process.
are many different diseases that cause lameness and
pain, so it should never be assumed that because your
companion is showing such symptoms that he has
arthritis. I have seen patients that were
"diagnosed" with arthritis and ended up having
a bone tumor in their leg. Make sure if your companion
is showing and lameness or pain in his body, you seek
your veterinarianís care.
is always the case, if the process is caught early, your
friend will be better off. Arthritis is no exception. If
this process is diagnosed at an early stage, with a good
exercise program and with the aid of anti-inflammatory
medications and supplements, these patients can live a
good quality life without having to endure chronic pain.