Pet Corner: Pillars of Pet Arthritis Treatment

| February/March 2010

Over the years, I’ve developed a general six-pillar protocol for arthritis, adapted from the treatments of several other holistic practitioners. Each pillar helps me simplify my thinking while building a strong therapeutic base, and each one can be adapted to the individual patient.

Pillar 1: Diagnosis

Our diagnostic objectives—achieved from a good medical history and physical exam—are twofold: 1) to give us a starting place on the roadmap to healing, and 2) to rule out some of the diseases that can be confused with arthritis, such as fractures; joint diseases; viral, fungal and bacterial infections; and bone- or joint-related cancer.

Pillar 2: Prevention

A pet needs to have an underlying scaffolding that is structurally sound. Look to nature—coyote or fox—for the model of an ideal canine skeleton. The more removed from these natural standards the animal appears, the more likely it will have structural and/or alignment defects that eventually can create arthritis. Genetic predisposition also plays a role.

Two other preventive factors go hand in hand: exercise and maintaining ideal weight. A joint must move to produce necessary lubrication, and a well-lubed joint also supplies the nutrients that maintain healthy, joint-cushioning cartilage. A fat, out-of-condition animal does not want to exercise and when he does move, he puts excessive stress on weight-bearing joints.

Pillar 3: Herbs

I use licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) for its potent anti-inflammatory action. It replaces the steroids (cortisone) I once used in my Western medicine practice. With licorice root, although it may take a month or two to see results, we avoid the adverse side effects of cortisone.

Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) also has been reported to be good for painful arthritis, with actions similar to cortisone.

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