Therapy for Pain

Musculoskeletal pain of an acute or chronic nature is frequently encountered in veterinary practice. Pain may be due to a traumatic injury, arthritis, intervertebral disc disease or other degenerative conditions.

One of the most common forms of therapy is the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. These drugs include Rimadyl® Etogesic®, Deramaxx®, Metacam®, and more recently Zubrin®, and Previcox®. While these medications play a valuable role in the treatment of pain, any drug carries the potential risk of adverse side effects, particularly with long term use in geriatric animals. Adverse effects may range from mild gastrointestinal irritation to life-threatening liver or kidney failure.

An integrated approach to medicine recognizes the benefit of these drugs while utilizing additional strategies as an adjunct or alternative to pharmaceutical intervention to manage pain and facilitate healing. Whereas NSAIDs work by suppressing inflammation, the therapies described in the following pages all stimulate the body’s own healing processes. This occurs in a variety of ways, but in a broad sense, these modalities stimulate or augment innate processes, occurring at the cellular level to repair and regenerate damaged tissues.

Our bodies and those of our animal companions have a tremendous capacity to heal on their own, given time, rest and adequate nourishment. However, this healing ability may become overwhelmed in the face of a severe injury, impaired by chronic or repeated stress, or diminished with age and other concurrent diseases. Because the following forms of therapy support, rather than suppress, normal physiologic processes, they are generally well tolerated by the patient and extremely safe. Although improvement may not be immediate, the effects are often residual and cumulative, lasting far beyond the period of treatment. All of these therapeutic modalities may be enhanced by feeding a high-quality fresh food diet augmented with appropriate nutritional supplements.