Friday, September 08, 2006

How to manage ARTHRITIS and other musculoskeletal diseases

Hi everyone, this post is dedicated to any of my friends who, like me, are suffering from arthritis or other joint problems. As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with arthritis in my right elbow at 18 months of age. It was a direct result from an injury I suffered as a pup, nonetheless, it left me in constant pain and discomfort. ( click here to read the full story )

Fortunately for me, mom was able to work with a wonderful group of vets (holistic/conventional/chiropractic/rehab) who all strived toward the same goal - make me feel better. I am very grateful for all their hard work, and am happy to say that I have not limped in my diseased elbow for over 4 years now!! I can run and play like most healthy dogs without coming back lame, and that makes my quality of life GRRRRRREAT!!

Here are things we did (and are still doing) that gave me the quality of life I deserved:

Note: Please keep in mind that each individual is unique to him/herself, so what worked for me, may or may not have the same effect on you.

ACUPUNCTURE - Acupuncture can work well on some dogs but do very little for others. However, patience is the key. It took me a good 4-6 weekly sessions to kick start my system in responding to acupuncture. After that initial 4-6 weeks, my body really started to respond to the acupuncture and my elbow never got as inflamed (warm or heat) or swollen as it used to get. The way my Auntie Janice explained it was that the acupuncture was able to get the inflammation process in my joint to the lowest possible point. So I was able to do what most healthy dogs could do without coming back limping or in pain. Sometimes we ran current through the needles over the most problematic joints to provide stronger stimulation to the acupoints.

Click here to find a holistic vet near you

CHIROPRACTICS - Since I have an arthritic elbow, I tend to over compensate with my other leg. When that happens, my entire body gets thrown off balance starting with my spine, then my muscles tighten in places where they shouldn't. So I used to see my chiro-vet, Dr. Gail Jewell once a months to have my muscles loosen, and have my spine put back into place. Now I see Dr. Jewell once every 6-8 weeks. Note to self: tell mom to make an appointment for me!!

HYDROTHERAPY - Hydrotherapy is just a fancy word for rehab therapy done in water. There are many forms of hydrotherapy, including: under water ultrasound, underwater treadmill, and of course, controlled swimming. The type of hydrotherapy I get is controlled swimming. Mom takes me to the ocean or lake during the summer months since the water isn't too cold, however, during the colder months, I go to a doggie rehab center with a heated pool. I really like the heated pool because I not only can do exercise to gain muscles without putting any stress on my diseased elbow, the heat from the water also increases circulation to my joints and that's always helpful!! My rehab vet, Dr. Jeff Bowra says that the more muscles I get, the more support I have for my unstable/arthritic joints.

This is a video taken when I was doing rehab with my therapist after my knee surgeries (that I have completely recovered from). We had to be careful that I didn't over do in the pool, so I wore a life jacket. However, I don't wear the life jacket now when I'm rehabbing my elbow.

Here are some useful links:

My rehab center-The SPAW

Links to Canine Rehab Centers in USA & Canada

Links to facilities providing animal Physio-Therapy worldwide

These are for you
Charlie ;-)
Dogs In Motion-Physio and Hydrotherapy center for dogs
ANIMAL Physiotherapy Services

SUPPLEMENTS - The following are supplements on mom's "must" list for joint problems.

***"Liquid" glucosamine/chodroitin: Mom has noticed that I am a lot less stiff when I take my glucosamine/chodroitin in liquid form because it is better absorbed and utilized by the body. The one that I use is called Cortaflex. What's special about Cortaflex is that it contains the amino acid "precursors" to what would become glucosamine and chodroitin. When the body is presented with these precursors, it will not only absorb it completely, it will also start producing glucosamine/chodroitin itself. Most other glucosamine/chodroitin supplements out there, be it liquid or tabs have the synthetically made glucosamine and chondroitin. They work on people and animals who are able to properly absorb the synthetic glu/cho, but does very little to nothing for people and animals who are not able to absorb them completely, if at all.

Mom sometimes alternate Cortaflex with Syn-Flex just so my body doesn't get use to one thing and stop responding. Syn-Flex just contains the glu/cho, not the precursors, but I seem to respond well to it too.

***Canine Musculoskeletal Support (scroll down the drop list) by Standard Process:

  • "Canine Musculoskeletal Support™ combines ingredients from whole food sources to provide support for the joints and periarticular tissues, as well as general strengthening of ligaments and tendons through a multi-organ approach. These nutrients include important animal tissue concentrates, whole vitamin complexes, minerals, botanicals, and phytonutrients specifically formulated to support joints and associated tissues."
  • "Canine Musculoskeletal Support™ contains specific whole vitamin complexes and Protomorphogen™ and Cytosol™ extracts to enhance the ability of joints and associated tissues to respond to fluctuating physical and metabolic demands while promoting tissue regeneration at the cellular level."

You got all that??

Okay......... I just know that it really works well for me................ and my mom swears by it.

***Proteolytic enzymes: Proteolytic enzymes work to break down harmful proteins in the body, including in the joint capsules, hence, giving the anti-inflammatory effect. They should be taken on an empty stomach for anti-inflammatory purposes, or else they become digestive enzymes when taken with food.

There are many different formulas out there; the one that I get is called Wobenzym N. Mom alternates Wobenzym with Canine Musculoskeletal Support mentioned above, just because I seem to be doing really well. However, if I do get worse, mom will not hesitate adding both to my daily regime.

Scroll down on this page, click on "The Whole Dog Journal article - "Digest These Benefits"" to read about how Wobenzym benefits dogs.

***Fish body oil high in EPA & DHA: The omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are known to benefit people with heart disease, kidney disease, and arthritis. Try to avoid flaxseed oil as it contains alpha linoleic acid(ALA) which is later converted in the body into the more active non-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA). However, studies have shown that many species of pets and even some people cannot convert ALA into the other beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. Therefore, supplementing omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil that has EPA & DHA in forms readily available is more beneficial.

Theraputic dosage is 1000mg/10 lbs of body weight. So for me, I get between 6000mg-7000mg of fish oil per day. If you are a big dog like me (60+ lbs), you might find that a liquid formula is more economical for your mom, and also easier than taking 6+ pills a day!!!

Omega 6 & 9 are big NO NO's as they are "pro" inflammatory!


***Antioxidants: Antioxidants protect cells from damaging oxidation by free radicals, and has been shown beneficial to arthritis, and many other ailments. The formulas mom alternates are CRYSTAL PLEX and ENZOGENOL (similar to the more well known Pycnogenol).

TIPS AROUND THE HOUSE - Make it clear to your parents that they should try to make your house more accomodating and accessible for your arthritic joints!! Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • put a ramp over stairs where it is possible
  • if you have laminate flooring or hardwood floors at home, put runners, mats, or puzzle mats like I have to provide better traction and prevent slipping
  • if you are a spoiled rotten brat like me with no manners, and is allowed on beds and furnitures, ask your parents nicely if they would consider moving their mattress down to the floor, or get a low bed frame so you can easily step on and off the bed without having to jump up, or endure the impact upon jumping off. This is my bed that I sometimes let my mom borrow. See how low it is to the ground??
  • if moving the mattress down or low bed frame is not possible, then consider getting a piece of 7" or 9" foam, and put it down beside the bed or furniture so when you jump off the bed and land on the foam, most of the impact from the landing will be absorbed by the foam. You can make covers for the foam to make it look better. This is my "sofa"-bed, but you almost never see it in it's sofa position because I like to stretch out on it during the day...hehe! The navy blue thingy is a piece of 7" foam for me to land on when I jump off the sofa bed.
  • you can also have your parents build or buy steps off the bed just to make is more accessible for you!!

Closing note: Even though arthritis is a pain in the a$$, but with patience and dedication, it is definitely manageable. Good luck everyone! Ohhhh, and try not to subject your diseased joints to major impacts such as fence bashing or flying off stairs!!!

My friends Opy and Charlie were my inspiration for this post. Hope it helps guys!


Anonymous said...

sunshade dear, didn't know you take so many types of supplements and have gone through so many types of recovery process too. luckily your mom is there to help you going through all the pains. it mustn't be easy...

i hope i'll stay healthy.

licky wet wet licks


Charlie - The Big Dog said...

Hey There,

Im sorry to hear you get sore bones (not the eating kind)
Its taken me 11 years to get sore bones, but you got then at 18 months! Thats not fair.
Im glad your humans make such a big effort to help you feel better. Its really great when you know they love you and want to help. Give them a BIG lick on the moosh for me - they sound like real nice humans:-)



e said...

Hi there sunshade.
The post is very informative. I'm definitely bookmarking this. You are a little cutie!
Fei & E

Chelsea said...

Thank You for bringing this to our attention. Doggies need to stick together and inform others of new breakthroughs in pup technology. I am sorry to hear you have pain sometimes but, looks like your Mama is doing whatever it takes to ease it for you.

You are a lucky dog!
Give your Mama a lick on my behalf.


T-man Angel said...

Miss Sunshade,
Thanks for all the info on arthritis!! I'm going to print your post out and show my Grandma because she has arthritis. You're a very lucky dog to have a mom who takes such GOOD care of you!! I like your swimming routine too -- I actually own a lifejacket just like that (can you believe it?).

Your friend,

Unknown said...

Hey Miss Sunshade,
Our Mama just loved your article. As you know, she has that osteoarthritis crap and she really feels for you and your pain. She told us that she got this at an early age. She has read about a lot of those things you have listed and she's going to look into them for herself! Thanks for sharing with all of us in cyberworld, it's great to inform each other!
Luv & Wirey Hugs!
Butchy & Snickers

jaffeboy said...

Wow Ms Sunshade, you are a trooper. Hopefully you will feel less pain as the treatment progresses.

Btw, my "auntie-in-law" does live on the street call Rabit Lane. On what street are you?

fee said...

miss sunshade!

what comprehensive and meticulously researched info! i'm glad you've found what works for you. i think acupuncture is cool (but does it hurt) and the hydrotherapy is so clever; building up the leg muscles so there is less pressure on the joints.

and o, i can see how much your mommy loves you from all the adjustments she's made to the house so that the impact on your joints can be cushioned whenever possible. you are so well loved, miss sunshade!

and i loves you too!


Fu Fu said...

Hey Miss sunshade,

Your mum did so much research for you. Hope you feel better ok. ;)

~ fufu

Sunshade said...

Boo: I hope you stay healthy too!! My elbow is a chronic condition and won't get better, but my knees are "fixed" and they have no arthritis at all. Mom is always saying how should should have done more research when she first got me (she was 16). But I tell her it's OK all the time!!

Charlie: You have some pretty nice hoomans too!! I'm glad you liked my post because my sore bones are not that sore anymore!

Fei & Chelsea: I'm so happy you guys found my post informative, yes, we should definitely share our knowledge.

T-man: you are such a good grandson, your grandma is so lucky to have you and your mom! Let grandma know that Cortaflex comes in human form too, unless she likes the beef flavour.....(otherwise the formula is exaclty the same). You must look very cool in your life jacket!!

Butchy & Snickers: I know what your mama is going through, but I"m sure she will feel better soon. Just let her know that don't eat anything that I have listed that says "canine" on them ok??

Jaffe: Actually, I don't really feel "pain" perse anymore. I get a little stiff after lots of exercise, but that's it, I don't limp. The best thing is that nobody could tell there's anything wrong with me when they meet me because I lead such an active life style. I live on "7th Ave"....not so exciting eh?

Fee: acupuncture needles are so thin that I don't feel a thing AT ALL. I fall right to sleep as soon as the first needle goes in on top of my head!! You're right, my neighbour's little boy calls my house "The cool dog house" LOL because everything is adjusted to meet Sunshade's needs, plus she has a tunnel that she runs in and out of.

FuFu: Thank you for the good wishes, but I do feel good generally because of all the supportive treatments I get!!

MUAH to all my friends!

Love nibbles,
Miss Sunshade

Anonymous said...

My mom is a Canadian Wholesale distributor for Syn Flex. I am now 8 years old and have had problems with my knees since I was 4. I am a large Lab X. My mom found out about Syn Flex and it helped me so much that she decided to become a distributor and we are now celebrating 3 years of providing this amazing product to Canadian pets.
You can visit for more info. I am the inspiration so the company is named after me.


Anonymous said...

Reaching the year 2008 new opcions for arthritis appears. Nowhere in the practice of rheumatology is this change more obvious than in the use of the new cytokine blockers or the so-called “biological” medications. One month's supply of one of the new biological medications can average approximately $1000. Other systems, such as Medicare, limit use based on legislatively-mandated delivery restrictions.

treat arthritis said...

Treatment options vary depending on the type of arthritis and include physical therapy, lifestyle changes (including exercise and weight control), orthopedic bracing, medications, and dietary supplements (symptomatic or targeted at the disease process causing the arthritis). Arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery) may be required in eroding forms of arthritis.