Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, caused when the hyaline cartilage found at the ends of bones which form a joint starts to break down. The cartilage acts as a shock absorber and provides lubrication to the joint to stop friction during movement. As the cartilage dries out it no longer provides the same cushioning. The bones start to rub together which causes inflammation and over time the bones of the joints wear down, becoming rough and misshapen.

As the bones aren’t moving together smoothly the joint can be very painful, particularly during times of inflammation. The muscles start to protectively splint across the joint, leading to poor range of movement, overcompensation in other areas of the body, with myofascial pain and trigger points forming as a result.

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis is generally thought of as a wear and tear disease and is more likely to be found in senior dogs. Factors that make it more likely include breed disposition, trauma to a joint, surgical procedures and orthopaedic conditions like hip dysplasia. Living conditions and activity levels can also play a large part; a dog receiving daily impact on joints such as repetitive slipping on laminate flooring or over training on jumps will be more at risk of developing arthritis.

Symptoms –

  • Lameness
  • Stiffness when rising
  • Avoidance of petting or grooming in the area
  • Slowing down or seeming old before their time
  • Less sociable with other dogs
  • Crepitus / creaking joints
  • Inflammation / heat in the joint
  • Reduced range of movement
  • Excess licking or nibbling at a joint, which may lead to lick granuloma

How can massage help?

  • Breaks down protective muscle splinting
  • Relaxes hypertonic muscles
  • Relieves areas of overcompensation
  • Improves range of movement
  • Reduces myofascial pain
  • Reduces inflammation

While arthritis is for some dogs an inevitable part of the ageing process, symptoms can be relieved and the progress of the disease slowed down by regular maintenance massage treatments and careful management of your dogs living environment and activity levels. Get in touch to find out whether your dog could benefit.