The practice has been running pain and mobility clinics for a long time to try and help patients and their owners cope with chronic pain and mobility issues. The clinics are run by Simon, one of the senior vets, who has a certificate in chronic pain management and western veterinary acupuncture and by Donna, one of our nurses, who is a qualified veterinary physiotherapist.
Who can benefit from the pain and mobility clinics?
- Dogs, cats, rabbits
- Senior patients either with arthritis or just general stiffness
- Animals with chronic orthopaedic or other medical conditions that alter movement
- Post-surgical patients to aid or speed recovery
- Agility or working dogs as like all athletes muscles fatigue and become sore with overwork
How do I know my pet is in pain?
We often hear clients saying “my pet is just slowing down a bit now he is older”. However, rather than just the normal ageing process, “slowing down a bit” is often a sign that your pet is in pain.
Pain and mobility clinics take a comprehensive look at you pets’ lifestyle and what they are able to do, to assess whether there is any evidence of pain. If the conclusion is yes then we devise the most appropriate way of managing this and improving your pet’s quality of life.
Signs that may indicate pain in animals:-
- Stiffness getting up and down particularly after rest
- Stiffness after exercise
- Difficulty jumping into a car (dogs)
- Difficulty jumping up to or down from higher surfaces (cats)
- Increased resting periods or reduction in exercise (particularly cats)
- Changes in behaviour
- Longer or thicker claws
- Scruffy or matted coat (cats)
What is involved in the initial consultation?
- Prior to the consultation we will give you a comprehensive questionnaire to fill out about your pets lifestyle.
- You need to allow up to 60 minutes for the initial consultation. 30 minutes will be with Donna and 30 minutes with Simon, with discussion time in-between.
- Donna will run through the questionnaire that you have filled out. It is important to get a thorough history and know as much as possible about your pets lifestyle. She will also run through a pain scoring system.
- Simon will then review the findings and following an examination will discuss the problems that have been found. He will then formulate an individual treatment plan that will address these issues, discuss the possible complications of treatment and how we will check the treatment is working.
What treatments are available?
All treatment plans are designed specifically for the individual patient and will be a combination of one or all of the following.
Physiotherapy is mainly used for pain management, improving range of motion in joints and alleviating stiffness. It can be used as a preventative measure or to help the body heal. It can also improve muscle tone, treat non-healing wounds and it is a great way to bond with your pet.
Physiotherapy treatments range from massage, stretches, joint manipulations to using various pieces of equipment. There will also usually be exercises to perform at home.
Acupuncture involves inserting very fine needles into the body. It is mainly used for pain management and works by blocking pain messages and encouraging the body to produce its natural painkillers. It is particularly good for muscle pain and arthritic pain.
The initial course of treatment is usually once a week for four sessions. After four weeks we will know whether acupuncture is working for your pet and will work out a long-term plan for maintaining its effect.
When animals are less mobile it is common for them to gain weight, which exacerbates any underlying problems. Weight control is therefore an essential part of any treatment plan. Our nurses Caroline and Sarah, will work out a suitable weight reduction programme with you.
Many different drugs are available to manage and control chronic pain. They can be used temporarily while other treatments take effect, or longer term to enable the patient to have a better quality of life. The exact drugs that may be suitable vary from condition to condition and from individual to individual. The benefits and side effects of each one will be discussed at length during the clinics.
Exercise modification, hydrotherapy & surgery
Exercise programmes are designed to encourage normal movement, increase fitness and strength. Hydrotherapy performs the same functions but can be more helpful where weight bearing needs to be limited. Occasionally surgery can be useful to reduce pain. For example young animals with severe hip dysplasia may benefit from a hip replacement.