These are regenerative treatments that make up some of the many options these days for managing pain and improving the quality of life of a pet with arthritis. We often use a combination of these to achieve optimum results, and the specifics will vary from pet to pet.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cell therapy is a method of introducing healthy cells into damaged tissues and stimulating them to heal and repair themselves. Stem cell therapy has been part of human medicine for decades, and has recently become an option for veterinary patients, especially as a treatment for osteoarthritis.
Adult stem cells are found in fat tissue and in the bone marrow, and they have the ability to grow into a variety of different tissues, depending on the environment they are placed into. Stem cells injected into a joint will become cartilage, and will thereby repair the damaged cartilage of the joint as well as improve circulation and nutrition to joint surfaces, and reduce the pain and inflammation in the joint. Most dogs will show a marked improvement within 4 weeks, and the improvement lasts
anywhere form 6-24 months (in our experience so far, at least 12 months and most dogs 18 months).
Stem cell therapy involves surgically collecting a small amount of body fat (approximately the size of a 50p coin) from beneath the skin during a short general anaesthetic. A veterinary tissue laboratory isolates the stem cells from the fat sample, and grows them in culture until they build up adequate numbers. They are then returned to us in a sterile culture medium ready for injection into the joint. A significant decrease in pain and lameness is usually seen within 3-4 weeks, and can last anywhere from 6 months to several years.
Our very own dog Dino has quite severe hip dysplasia, diagnosed when he was only 5 years old. For such a lively spaniel, who is happiest when running around for hours, this was a devastating diagnosis. His lifestyle changed dramatically and despite medication, physio/hydrotherapy, and acupuncture by the time he was 8 years old Dino could only cope with one 20 minute slow lead walk per day. Frankly, he was one sad little dog. After doing a lot of research, we decided to try stem cell therapy, and we are thrilled with the results! Three weeks after the treatment he was running around like a puppy again, with no trace of the limp which had plagued him for years, and his massive doggy grin was firmly back in place! At time of writing this page (May 2020) Dino is still going strong now aged 14!
We are very pleased to be able to offer stem cell therapy as minimally invasive option for treating arthritis in both dogs and cats.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy (Dogs Only)
Platelets are blood cells which, when activated, release a number of anti-inflammatory factors, growth factors that promote wound healing and tissue regeneration, and stimulate stem cell activity. When injected into a joint, they decrease inflammation and pain, promote cartilage repair and improve circulation to the joint. Dogs should show improvement within 12 weeks (most much sooner), and the improvement lasts from 6-12 months. The procedure involves either a sedation or a general anaesthetic (depending on the dog and the joints being treated). The required volume of blood is drawn from the dog, and filtered to separate the platelet-rich plasma component. This process takes about 15 minutes. The platelets are then injected into the joints – there is usually enough platelets to treat 2 joints, sometimes 3-4 depending on the size of the dog. Any excess platelet-rich plasma can be frozen and stored for repeat use for up to 2 years.
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