TREATMENT OF ARTHRITIS
Unfortunately, since we cannot remodel the joint without surgical
intervention, attempts are made to reduce the inflammation at
the nerve endings so that the dog is at least comfortable (even
if range of motion is compromised). Very effective medication
such as the steroids Prednisone, Dexamethasone, and other corticosteroids
will markedly reduce swelling and inflammation to affected joints.
But there is a downside to the use of steroids for long term palliation
of arthritis. Intermittent use may be indicated; long term use
should always be questioned. Long term corticosteroid use can
actually contribute to additional joint damage and breakdown.
Steroids and NSAIDs do not promote healing of joint tissues, whereas
the nutraceuticals described here can.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen,
Rimadyl and Etogesic can have noticeable beneficial effects on
the arthritis patient. These medications, too, have a down side
in some patients and must be very carefully regulated to avoid
bleeding disorders, gastric ulcers, and liver and kidney dysfunction.
Do not use NSAIDs without consulting your veterinarian first!
By their nature, nutraceuticals are substances that are consumed
orally as an addition to a normal diet. These substances are much
safer than traditional "drugs" in that they can be considered
a form of food or nutrient. Toxicity levels are rarely attainable
if they are used in reasonable amounts. Today, the most commonly
used nutraceutical in pet health care is GLUCOSAMINE and CHONDROITIN
SULFATE. The reason these two substances are so widely used is
that in many patients, after a few weeks to two months of administration,
very noticeable improvement in comfort, mobility and attitude
are noticed. Because these substances tend to be incorporated
into regenerating tissues the benefits of nutraceutical use are
not generally seen "right away". With drugs, we would
see apparent comfort and improvement almost immediately... but
at the expense of potential undesirable side effects. Let's take
a look at the most commonly used nutraceuticals...
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound composed of a sugar
and an amino acid and is involved with the body's production of
joint lubricants and shock absorption necessary to maintain healthy
cartilage and joint function. It is manufactured in the body in
the joint cartilage and is one of the major components involved
with the formation of the critical lubricants and shock absorbers
necessary to maintain and restore healthy joint performance. Any
degeneration or injury to joint cartilage can result in the failure
of the joint to produce sufficient cartilage repair and maintenance
substances. The net result with time is a wearing down of the
joint cartilage to the point where pain and swelling can substantially
reduce joint function. This is what is commonly called degenerative
joint disease (DJD) and Osteoarthritis.
sulfate plays a role in other body structures besides joints.
It is involved in the formation of nails, tendons, skin, eyes,
synovial fluid, bone, ligaments, heart valves and in mucous secretions
of the digestive, respiratory and urinary tracts. It is created
in the production of proteins associated with cellular growth
and structure. Test tube and animal studies show glucosamine supplements
help increase cartilage production and reduce inflammation. Absence
of glucosamine sulfate in the diet can result in early aging of
cells, loss of cellular function, susceptibility to bacterial
and fungal infection, and cell death. Glucosamine sulfate is one
of the building blocks of the basic substance of articular cartilage.
Glucosamine sulfate may also assist in the rebuilding of damaged
as a nutritional supplement which is extracted from crab, lobster
or shrimp shells. There are three forms of glucosamine so when
purchasing it, look for the glucosamine sulfate form because it
seems to be absorbed and utilized the best. Because dietary supplements
are unregulated, the quality and contents may vary widely. Be
sure to choose a product sold by a well established company. Read
and understand the product label ingredient list.
with permission of T. J. Dunn, Jr. DVM and www.thepetcenter.com