We Mean Business in Fighting Pain

We Mean Business
in Fighting Pain

By Dr. Ed Mapes
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
McKinney, Tx

Combating pain is one of our primary areas of focus, and we are getting Stonebridge Animal Hospital ready for it. Many animals spend their lives in chronic states of discomfort that only worsen as they get older; until arriving at a time that life itself becomes unbearable. That is the point at which, all too often, veterinarians are called upon to humanely euthanize these pets to end to their and their owners’ suffering.

We believe very strongly in providing pet owners with many options to help these pets overcome the effects of osteoarthritis, ligament and tendon disorders, and spinal problems that cause the majority of this trouble. We have focused attention on medications, rehabilitation techniques, surgery, and cutting edge therapeutics that can minimize or eliminate pain and restore happy lives.

Pain no longer should be thought of as a normal part of aging. Injuries can be overcome with a variety of therapies. New technologies have been proven to be effective, and they’re here – we’re using them right now.

Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is paramount to designing an effective treatment plan. Help begins by obtaining a thorough history from the pet owner to identify the problem as primarily orthopedic or one stemming from another body system. For example, weakness could also be cause by heart, blood, kidney, or many other problems.

A comprehensive examination follows to help pinpoint the site(s) of discomfort. This entails observation of the pet and videotaping the gait for abnormalities. We then do a thorough hands-on exam with a wide assortment of manipulations and tests to assess nerve, bone, muscle, tendon, and ligament functions. Next we measure individual muscle groups to assess for symmetry and loss of muscle mass. This examination is not designed to be quick; it is designed to be thorough.
At this point, we may have gleaned enough information to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis, but there is often more involved. Digital radiographs provide invaluable information. Blood tests are frequently called for – as preoperative screening or to rule out specific disease-causing organisms. Sometimes ultrasound or specialized radiographs are needed.

For example, a dog with pain in several joints may in fact have Lyme disease contracted from tick bites. In that situation the treatment focuses on eradicating the Borrelia burgdorferi organism instead of treating the joints.

A diagnosis leads to formulating treatment plans that take all factors into account; the exact problem, its chronicity and degree of severity, the animal’s overall health, expectations of success and prognosis of improved quality of life, and owner commitment to the program. Some conditions are treated quickly with great odds in our favor. Others that are more complex may entail more extensive, or combinations of, modalities for a chronic, severe condition.
Treatment may begin with surgery – say for a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament or fractured bone – and then necessitate a course of rehabilitation for maximum healing and return to normal mobility.

Some situations call for medications to initially control severe pain, and then provide laser therapy and physical rehab to more gradually rebuild muscle and improve joint motion.

Figure 1: Laser therapy

Figure 1: Laser therapy

Figure 1 laser therapy is helping this patient with severe hip dysplasia. The initial course is six treatments lasting approximately three minutes per hip. Results are often seen after the first couple of visits, and he may only need one treatment every few months after that for have a more normal life again.

Stem cell implantation is a new option that is especially useful in severe joint arthritic conditions, along with ligament and tendon damage. This is a new frontier, but one that is proven effective in clinical studies and in thousands of real patients.
Pain need not prevent your pets from enjoying their lives. They’re only around for a relatively short number of years – let’s help them get pleasure from all of those years in the best ways that we can.
Visit the sites below to learn more about these exciting new ways to help our pets:




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