Hydrotherapy for the osteoarthritic dog: why might it help and is there any evidence?

Helen Cartlidge
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

There are many potential factors that can play a role in the initial development of osteoarthritis, however, irrespective of cause, the progression of osteoarthritis is similar in all cases. Pathological changes within the joint are often self-perpetuating; degeneration of articular cartilage initiates an inflammatory response which results in further degeneration of the cartilage. Pain and discomfort and subsequent reduced activity follows, leading to reduced aerobic ability and further changes within the musculoskeletal tissues. With no cure available, treatment often centres on management strategies to ease discomfort and progression of clinical signs. Hydrotherapy could be beneficial for osteoarthritic patients as it allows exercise to be conducted in a reduced weight bearing environment. This allows aerobic ability, muscle strength and range of motion to be improved/maintained while reducing the impact on painful joints. Available evidence suggests that treatment with hydrotherapy is beneficial in the management of osteoarthritis, however, further evidence is required in the comparison of aquatic and land-based therapy.

Hydrotherapy for the osteoarthritic dog: why might it help and is there any evidence?
Hydrotherapy for the osteoarthritic dog: why might it help and is there any evidence?

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