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Is it really arthritis?
Last review: 08/12/10  Administrator
When a pet that has been behaving normally has a sudden onset of "limping," does it mean that arthritis has set in? To answer that question, you have to consider just how suddenly it appeared.

"Limping" that Just Appears Out of Nowhere

There are a number of possibilities when your pet just begins to limp. It can be a result of a traumatic injury; an infection or a nutritional disease. In most cases, having a vet perform an orthopedic examination and x-rays will spot the problem. Of course, if there is something serious going on, early diagnosis and a treatment plan is important.

Sometimes it is a Tough Judgment Call

One area that is difficult to diagnose is soft tissue injuries. Normally, these injuries are caused by trauma. An example of a soft tissue injury could be a tear in the collateral or cruciate ligaments of the knee joints. The tough part here is trying to make a diagnosis.

Playful Pets versus Those that are Not

If you have a pet that is active enough to get into rigorous exercising, there is always the possibility that these "soft tissue" injuries are going to occur. These are the pets that go out and run, twist and turn, chase and stop suddenly and the like. As a very general rule, if your pet is very active and suddenly has lameness, this is usually the culprit.

What is the normal cause of the problem?

It can be as simple as a little bruising that has occurred during play. Or, it could be a small tearing in the muscles. (Of course, we should always remember to take a look for objects that may have become imbedded in a paw. You would be amazed at how often this simple home diagnosis is overlooked.)

Diagnosis and Healing

These soft tissue injuries can be challenging to find. (They don't show up on radiographs with rare exceptions.) Namely, when a pet has a chronic ligament problem there may be signs of secondary osteoarthritis. As your vet will tell you, this is actually pretty easy to diagnose. Normally, they give your pet some anesthesia and when the joint is manipulated it will demonstrate some "looseness."

As a general rule, if your pet experiences a soft tissue injury, it is going to heal with a little rest. Although the injury may take a little time, generally the healing is fairly rapid. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may take a few days or it may take a week or two. Again, this is an issue of the extent of the injury.

Is surgery ever required for these kinds of injuries? In very rare cases the answer is "yes." Fortunately, that is not very often.

Glucosamine Therapy

The good news is that glucosamine (and particularly a liquid form) can help a great deal, even with soft tissue injuries. The better formulas have all-natural anti-inflammatory ingredients in them and this will help keep your pet comfortable as the healing progresses.