Arthritis is a degeneration of the joints, commonly called wear and tear. Unlike in people where it generally doesn't appear until later life, dogs can suffer from arthritis from a young age. It tends to affect the larger breed heavier dogs at a younger age than the smaller breeds but this is not always the case. Arthritis basically means 'joint inflammation', arising as a result of the grinding of bones causing swelling in the joint. This swelling and the actual grinding itself can cause pain, and can seriously affect the way a dog moves which may result in muscle loss and difficulty rising from a lie for example.
What can physio do for arthritis?
Firstly for pain relief I like to use low level laser therapy; this helps remove inflammation, increase blood flow and remove toxins from the area. Unfortunately physiotherapists are not able to perform acupuncture on animals, but soft tissue work and trigger point release can help to loosen any tight or sore muscles which have been working to support the joints. I would always liaise with your veterinarian about pain relief if I felt your dog needed more medication, this is something Physiotherapists are unable to advise on.
After maximising pain relief, therapy focus is on increasing muscle strength and stability of the joints this includes the core muscles. We will work through a specific exercise programme for your dog. You will need to do these exercises between sessions in order to maximise their effectiveness. The exercises will gradually get more difficult as your dog hopefully regains more strength and improves in function. As there is no cure for arthritis (apart from joint replacements), regular top up sessions would be advised.