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A variety of methods are employed in rehabilitative medicine. They may include acupuncture, therapeutic laser, hydrotherapy, therapeutic exercise, magnetic field therapy and medical massage and manual therapy. Successful animal rehabilitation relies on some, or all, of these modalities. Just like people, every animal is different. Therefore, it is important to determine which treatment method(s) work best for each animal. Usually a combination of different treatments results in the most improvement.
This involves the insertion of very fine, sterile needles into different areas of the body. This incites a series of responses and reflexes within the nervous system. The result of this response is neuromodulation of the nervous system. Acupuncture can be used for a variety of problems, but is especially useful for treating pain. Acupuncture has enough evidence for it to be endorsed by the National Institutes of Health for humans with chronic osteoarthritis. Most animal patients enjoy their acupuncture treatments and some even fall asleep!
The most advanced Class IV therapeutic laser is used in our patients to treat pain and inflammation. Laser therapy, or "photobiomodulation" is the use of specific wavelengths of light to create therapeutic effects. These effects include improved healing time, pain reduction, increased circulation and decreased swelling. Laser therapy can help with arthritis pain, soft tissue injuries, post surgical pain, neck and back pain.
Hydro (water) therapy
The underwater treadmill uses the buoyancy of water to increase range of motion and flexibility. This enables our neurological and orthopedic patients to return to function sooner. It helps in chronic conditions by strengthening muscles surrounding arthritic joints. The warm water and therapeutic jets provide soothing relief for a variety of conditions. In combination with massage and manual therapy, the therapy pool provides soothing relief for senior pets.
Therapeutic exercises are an important part of our therapy programs at WGVR. They usually include a combination of in clinic and home exercise programs. The purpose of these exercises is to increase strength, endurance, range of motion and flexibility. Exercise programs are designed specifically for each patient depending on their condition and abilities.
Magnetic field therapy
Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) are useful in a variety of ways. The main use is for the treatment of pain. PEMF works in part by increasing pain thresholds. It aids in blood flow and tissue repair. PEMF is useful in the treatment of fractures, degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system, inflammatory conditions, and poor circulation.
Medical massage and manual therapy
These treatments are becoming widely recognized as a viable treatment in animals as well as people. Massage may be used for warm-up, for relaxing or stimulating muscles in order to prevent injury or rehabilitate soft tissue injuries. It may include mobilization of joints, soft tissue mobilization and myofascial release. In chronic conditions such as arthritis, there is often secondary pain due to increased stress on other joints and muscles. Therapeutic massage benefits include:
- Improved circulation
- Pain reduction
- Improved relaxation
- Reduction in trigger points (muscle spasms and knots)