Hip and Elbow Pain in Dogs – Dysplasia

Doggies can get pain relief from hip and elbow pain! Dr. Baum, Chief of Staff, Center-Sinai Animal Hospital in Los Angeles, discusses causes, and how to treat hip and elbow pain in dogs, relationship to dysplasia, arthritis.

What to do about hip and elbow pain in dogs – Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia are common developmental diseases resulting in arthritic bone formation in the effected joint. Radiographs taken during the dog’s period of growth can detect both diseases early in their course. This is important because early detection can lead to treatments which can limit the extent of arthritic degeneration.

Technically, hip dysplasia is defined as a subluxation of the hip joint. What this means is that the alignment of the ball and socket hip joint is slightly off and the weight-bearing stresses on the bone are abnormal. In an attempt to distribute the weight more equitably, the bone starts remodeling itself — resulting in the formation of arthritic bone which damages the smooth cartilage surface of the bones.

Elbow dysplasia also results in arthritic damage, but it is not due to a malalignment. Rather, it is due to a failure of a small piece of bone to properly fuse to the main body of the bone, which acts as the hinge of the elbow. This “joint mouse” constantly pings the joint surfaces which creates damage and reactive bone formation. Early removal of the loose piece will minimize the damage.

Early and severe cases of hip dysplasia can be helped by a surgical procedure that realigns the joint by tilting the pelvic part of the joint. This procedure must be done before the arthritic changes develop. After changes have developed, and if medical treatment is ineffective replacement of the diseased hips with artificial devices can be performed with good success. Rarely is hip dysplasia as debilitating as this. Years ago, many of the debilitating effects which were thought to be caused with hip dysplasia were actually being caused by a nerve degeneration of the spinal cord (demyelinating disease).

Medical treatment involves the use of medications to minimize the effects of the arthritis. Glucosamine /Chondroitin combinations help the body replace damaged cartilage in the joint. In many case, buffered aspirin (Ascriptin) is effective in relieving arthritic discomfort. If stronger medications are needed cortisone (Prednisone) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (Rimidyl) can be used. The important thing to remember is that no medication is without potential side affects and to use the least amount of medication that relieves the symptoms (with the exception of the glucosamine, which should be continued at a level dose).

A word about exercise: allow your pets to find their level of activity. Activity should be encouraged but never forced.

Every case is different. Consultation with your veterinarian is the best way to find the best combination of treatments for your dog.


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