Most dogs exercise a lot, and with that comes the possibility of damage to ligaments and tendons. Fortunately, we are not forced to address arthritis and knee problems with dangerous, nail-biting surgeries. Instead we can take advantage of a curative method known as prolotherapy.
Prolotherapy is a non-surgical therapeutic proliferative option that was used on humans in the 1950s and continues to be used continuously and perpetually for rotator cuff injuries, knee injuries, back injuries, and neck injuries. In fact, prolotherapy can be used almost any place you have a ligament or tendon that needs thickening.
Prolotherapy instead of surgery
Prolotherapy works by injecting lidocaine (which is something you would know from the dentist) and dextrose (sugar water). We inject a mixture of these solutions in and around the ligaments and tendons of the knee, usually on the lateral aspect which result in a proliferation of tissue, increasing the size of the ligaments and tendons by 28 to 38 percent. This is important because it helps ligaments and tendons stay strong to support and stabilize your dog’s weight and keep him pain-free and moving with ease.
In the case of a medial patella luxation, your kneecap is held within a ligament, which glides up and down. Inside of the knee is the medial meniscus – and there’s another ligament (the transverse ligament) that holds the meniscus together in the front of the knee. When your kneecap, which is held within that tendon, is actually too shallow, what happens is you get ligament laxity and it will just pop out of there. This is endemic in small and tay breeds.
It may not seem like a big problem to you that it’s a trick knee (the kneecap slides back and forth), but what’s going on when you have that is that there’s more wear and tear on the inside of your knee.
Now, what happens when you have either knee pathology when you’ve partially torn one of the cruciates, what happens is you have they call “cranial draw,” so that, your femur, your tibia, are easy to manipulate, so that there might be a partial tear within those cruciates.
When to treat with prolotherapy
So how do you know if your dog is starting to have cruciate disease? They sometimes will hold up a leg, they will run very fast, and what will happen is suddenly they will pull up and hold that leg up and sometimes they will walk, and will actually skip, so they will have a three-legged stance. And that is the time to take a look at this pathology and have your veterinarian check for that cranial draw. Because, if you only have a partial tear, it’s much easier to fix than having a total rupture of the ligaments and tendons.
Now, you can opt for surgical procedures that can alleviate or correct these ailments, but keep in mind that these treatments are invasive, and sometimes unnecessary. Traditional treatments that rely on surgery have side effects and don’t guarantee pain relief. With a success rate between 80 and 90 percent, prolotherapy is a solution you should consider before deciding on a course of treatment. For more in-depth information, please refer to my article on Prolotherapy.
It’s very important to communicate your interest in prolotherapy for your dog to a veterinarian that provides this treatment so that this curative treatment is narrowly tailored to your dog. Remember, cranial cruciate disease or any ailment in the ligaments or tendons can result in painful ambulatory effects, so the sooner you inform yourself about the treatments for your dog, the more options you will have, not to mention the ability to use them within an effective time frame.
So, if you would like more information, please feel free to reach out to us by email, or even through Facebook. And if you like this type of information, please let us know so that we can continue these posts for you.
About The Author
Author Dr Babette Gladstein is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr Gladstein’s treatment modality expertise includes acupuncture, ultrasound, chiropractic and massage therapy, prolotherapy, holistic and traditional therapies. She makes house calls in the New York metropolitan area.
Thank you for this excellent article. How much physical exercise/rest do you recommend 1) immediately (first 72 hours) after the prolotherapy treatment 2)in the weeks between treatments?
I’ve heard some prolotherapy vets say the dog should be severely restricted to the home not only immediately after the treatment but throughout the 3-4 month treatment window, only taking them outside on a leash to go to the bathroom and even keeping them on a leash inside to keep them from jumping on furniture, going upstairs, or slipping on wood floors.
Other prolotherapy vets say:
1)”Movement post-procedure is imperative. For at least the first 48 hours, clients are instructed not to let the animal stay in one position for longer than two hours without a minimal 15-minute walk,”
2) “light exercise can begin 24 hours after prolotherapy. Many younger pets (especially dogs) may have significantly decreased pain post-prolotherapy and may immediately want to become more
active. It is important to prevent these animals from over exercising, or further damage, lameness and pain can result. It is recommended that dogs be prevented from running and jumping and leash walked only twice daily for short distances in the week following prolotherapy to promote normal blood circulation and healing of the joints.”
3) “the dog or cat must avoid any heavy duty exercises, but normal walking and short runs are fine.”
What are your thoughts on these recommendations?
Thank you for your insights on this issue.
Since Prolotherapy is an alternative to surgery, even our pets need some time to heal before they can go back to their walks and runs. I definitely agree with not letting our pets stay in one place as it will be harder for them to recover from a drastic change in mobility. However, most dogs ( including my own) immediately begin to run with excitement since they are no longer in pain. So the best one I agree with is your point number #2. I do hope this article helped and looking forward to more of your questions and comments!