If your dog suffers a torn cruciate or other ligament or tendon injury that generally requires surgery, ask your veterinarian about prolotherapy. This nonsurgical technique helps connective tissue form in parts of the body where it has become weak. The "prolo" part of the term stands for proliferation, because it causes that connective tissue to proliferate.
Whether your dog is a candidate for surgery or prolotherapy depends on his individual diagnosis and situation. If you have concerns about your dog's ability to undergo anesthesia, as might be the case with aged or brachycephalic -- short-nosed -- animals, consider prolotherapy. If your dog has been through surgery and still suffers pain, prolotherapy might offer some relief. If conventional pain medications aren't helping, or if your dog experiences adverse reactions to them, prolotherapy is another avenue to explore. Since not all vets practice prolotherapy, ask your vet to recommend a certified veterinary prolotherapy practitioner for your dog.
Besides tendon and ligament issues, prolotherapy might benefit dogs diagnosed with arthritis, sprained ankles and wrists, spinal stenosis, luxating patellas, intervertebral disc disease, hip dysplasia or back and neck pain. Dogs suffering from Wobbler disease, or cervical spondylomyelopathy, a compression of the nerve roots of the spine causing a wobbling gait, also might find relief through prolotherapy.
Your vet injects a solution producing collagen into the tendon, ligament or affected part of your dog's body. The substance causes a local reaction, increasing the blood flow to the area. This stimulates healing while encouraging proliferation of new tissue. Practitioners also might use ozone, in a technique known as prolozone, along with other collagen-producing proliferants. Before treatment, your dog might be lightly sedated so the vet can easily inject the proliferants. Your dog receives three to six treatments, depending on the condition, approximately every three weeks to four weeks. Most dogs show signs of pain relief by the third session, although this varies by the individual animal. Your vet also might recommend supplements to aid in healing or prescribe antibiotics to prevent any joint infection from the procedure.
After your dog's prolotherapy treatment, he might feel a little sore. However, it's just as likely he'll feel much better, so you must be careful that he doesn't inadvertently harm himself by becoming too active. Walk him on a leash for the first 24 hours after treatment, and restrict his activities for at least one week. That means no jumping, running or any excitement.
By Jane Meggitt
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About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.