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Muscle Strengthening as a Treatment Modality for Arthritis of the Hip Joints

Brian S. Beale, DVM, Diplomate ACVS, Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists, presented an interesting paper during the 140th AVMA Convention on Hip Dysplasia and Osteoarthritis: Treatment Options in the Skeletally Mature Dog. A portion of the paper detailed muscle strengthening exercises, an important component of conservative treatment options.

"Exercise programs aimed at developing pelvic muscles should begin gradually. Exercise therapy challenges the muscles and joints through active involvement of the dog. The dog should be walked on surfaces such as a sport court, rubber matting or carpet. This will reduce the amount of slipping and miss steps and encourage the dog to begin using his muscles.

The dog should be walked slowly to ensure each foot is being used. Slowly walking steps can increase muscle strength by forcing the dog to push of evenly on both hind limbs. If the dog is moved too fast, they tend to hop, bearing more weight on the less effected limb. After the dog is showing significant improvement at the walk, begin trotting on good surfaces to insure balance and stability. Down-stand exercise can build pelvic muscle strength if the dog does not walk into the stand.

Swimming (if available) develops endurance and flexibility. Repetitions of down-stand exercises also increase endurance and flexibility. Standing, forced flexion-extension exercises (squats) develop strength, as does walking uphill with leg weights. Following exercise therapy, the owner should passively extend the hip joint. This will increase the range of motion and help prevent pathologic stretching of the surrounding soft tissue."

VSRS 2003
David R Luck, DVM
Email: drluck@vsrs.net
Pager: 303-855-7467

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