Degenerative Joint Disease is a consequence of the wear and tear of everyday activities or it may be a result of trauma or injury. In dogs, it is the soft tissue that lines the joint, called the synovium, which is the first to be affected. When this happens, the tissues of the affected joints release chemical mediators to combat the inflammation which has developed. The release of chemical mediators has been proven to initiate the degeneration of the tissues within the joint cartilage.
Studies have shown that primary cartilage damage can trigger a series of events that can give rise to further destruction of the articular cartilage and a consequent severe inflammation of the synovial lining. The joints of a dog suffering from Degenerative Arthritis will continually receive onslaught from these vicious processes that can ultimately lead to complete cartilage degeneration.
Degenerative Arthritis in labradors is manifested by signs and symptoms which can easily be observed by a dog owner. The most common of these signs include—
• Swollen and inflamed joints which may be painful when touched
• Walking with a limp or the dog may be hesitant to stand or walk
• In chronic cases, muscles of the leg may be atrophied
• There may be crepitation or a dry crackling sound when the joint is moved
during examination particularly when the condition is a chronic one.
Aside from the clinical manifestations diagnostic tests need to be conducted in order to confirm Degenerative Joint Disease and eliminate other possible causes. The following tests are necessary to arrive at a correct diagnosis—
- Taking a complete medical history
- Conduct a thorough physical examination
- Conduct a comprehensive orthopedic examination.
- Radiographs are taken of the joints to determine if there is
evidence of degeneration within the joints.
- Computed Tomography (CT)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Bone Scan (Scintigraphy)
- Force Plate Analysis
- Joint Fluid Analysis
The course of treatment for Degerative Arthritis may include one or more of the following—
o Medications that will include anti-inflammatories such as NSAIDs,
painkillers, and corticosteroids. However, it should be noted that long
term use of corticosteroids may lead to serious side effects.
o When the condition is caused by trauma or injury, surgery may be indicated
in order to slow down the progress of the degenerative process.