By: Gloria Dodd, DVM
In a recent survey of all veterinarians in this country, 94% of the doctors stated osteoarthritis as one of the leading causes of chronic pain in their practices. They looked for signs of reduced activity, changes in behavior and appetite and pet's difficulty in defecating and/or urinating.
Both osteoarthritis and Hip Dysplasia engender similar symptoms; early stages show little swelling, no tissue heat and pain upon movement that produces lameness that improves with exercise. Severe states progress to generalized hind limb weakness to paralysis and loss of sensory perception in both hind legs. The final stages express degenerative involvement of lower spinal nerves innervating the sphincter muscles controlling the bowels and urinary bladder with subsequent loss of control of bowel movements and urination. It is at this point that quality of life for the animal and pet owner is so low that the animal is euthanized.
But it need not be. Prevention has always been the best medicine. Before you can prevent the disease you have to understand it.
90% of all osteoarthritis is traumatic, 10% is genetic as in Hip Dysplasia of certain breeds of dogs. Hip Dysplasia (HD) occurs more frequently in the heavier muscled breed dogs such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, St. Bernards, Great Pyrenees, and notoriously in German Shepherds. Man mucked up the German Shepherds when he selected the look of the "low slung" hindquarters for show competition. Unwittingly he was concentrating the genes that deform the hip joint in the breed. Ultimately osteoarthritic changes in trauma and HD occur from accumulation of calcium to form spurs and bridging of vertebral bodies of the spine and calcium deposits on the surfaces of bones in the joints.
HD develops as a genetic misinformation in fetal formation of the hip joints. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket type joint, In HD, the normally rounded head of the femur (thigh bone) is flattened and fits poorly in the socket, or that produces a shallow acetabular cup (the bone of the pelvis that holds the head of the top of the thigh bone), so that the femoral head rides "sloppily" in this "cup". With time, there is wear and tear on both surfaces that grind down the cartilage and produce calcium deposits and much pain upon movement. It varies in degree with puppies that can't walk to marginal adults that later in life develop the arthritis. It is inherited and the only prevention is not to breed HD positive (on X-Ray) breeding stock. There is an organization that registers HD negative dogs, The OFA. It behooves potential owners to get puppies from OFA certified parents.
The disturbance from the norm exists on two levels: the physical and the energy flow level.
In the physical, there is always an underlying malalignment of the spine. I can't remember any of the hundreds of cases I have experienced where I didn't have to utilize chiropractic adjustment to begin the healing. With malalignment of the spinal vertebrae (be it from a trauma or HD) there is pain. With pain the animal torques his body to get the weight of his body parts off the painful area. In the case of HD he throws his weight off the painful hip joints to the front legs. This puts an abnormal strain on the front legs, shoulder and neck areas. In trauma, the animal shifts off center to the opposite side that is not painful.
This leads to an unnatural load to the leg joints, rotation of spinal vertebrae and muscle spasm with micro capillary bleeding. Overburdened joints in legs and between vertebrae attract calcium ions, which begin to lay down on these surfaces as tiny little rough plaques and spurs. With abnormal weight comes abnormal wear of cartilage surfaces in joints and between vertebral bodies with resultant more muscle spasm, more attraction of calcium to the area. It is a lose/lose situation. Eventually the leg joints break down, the animal is unable to get up, vertebrae become heavily bridged with calcium deposits irritating and interfering with the function of the spinal nerves exiting between vertebrae on their way to innervate specific internal organs.
Disturbance to the energy flows within acupuncture meridians begin locally over the injured or genetically flawed area, but then since it is a closed energy circuit, it begins to affect all organ meridians. The first signal given by this energy disturbance is PAIN. Remember PAIN is the body's SCREAM FOR ENERGY. Curative energy can only be supplied by energetic means.
That is why surgical intervention, pain- killing drugs, and anti-inflammatory medication never cure, only mask the pain signal with time being lost and more damage being done to the physical body. Invariably (man and animal suffer the same fate), chronic degenerative diseases take over in other organs in addition to more joint damage: digestive deficiencies, skin health and coat become lusterless and dry due to the imbalances in the liver and digestion organs, chronic infections of the ear, feet and allergy development with dermatitis due to the immune organs related to these meridians.
The liver meridian being greatly disturbed by the added toxicities of drugs given, has a destructive energy flow to the spleen (major immune system organ) and the Pancreas ( source of sugar metabolism and digestive enzymes.) This can lead to the development of improper digestion and nutrition. Diabetes Mellitus and cataracts can develop due to the disturbed pancreatic function. The disturbed, imbalanced Spleen/Pancreas have a destructive energy flow to the kidney and urinary bladder with resultant chronic kidney and bladder infections, in some cases even crystals and stones form. Ultimately, weaknesses are reflected all through the body.