Osteochondritis dissecans is a disease that affects the normal growth of cartilage and can affect various joints in the dogs body.
The cartilage does not develop normally through the process of endochondral ossification and leads to an abnormal thickening of the cartilage, which is then unable to receive a normal supply of blood and nutrients. This causes the cartilage to become weaker, it fails to dissipate frictional forces and becomes more susceptible to damage.
The cartilage then becomes prone to cracking, this weakened layer of cartilage forms a flap that becomes elevated because of the joint fluid which surrounds the cartilage and bone. These flaps can then break off and float around in the joint. This is often called a joint mouse.
This will lead to an inflammatory response, the amount of arthritis present depends on the size and duration of the lesion.
Shoulder osteochondritis causes a lesion to develop on the head of the humerus, with elbow osteochondritis the lesion is usually seen on the inside of the humerus, and with stifle osteochondritis the lesion will occur on the outer part of the femur.
Although osteochondritis dissecans can affect small dogs it is generally associated with larger breeds, and seems to affect male dogs more frequently than female dogs. This could be due to their size and the stress it places on the joints, or may indicate a hormonal factor. It is generally discovered in young dogs between the age of four to ten months, but is often picked up in older dogs when symptoms become more pronounced.
Symptoms are lameness in the affected limb, or an inability to bear weight on the leg. The lameness tends to worsen after periods of exercise and improves after rest. It most commonly affects the shoulder joint, and can be picked up when a dog struggles to flex and extend the shoulder joint. Hind-limb lameness and a straight-hocked stance are signs of tarsal and hock osteochondritis.
What causes Osteochondritis Dissecans
The cause of this disease is due to several different factors including genetics, trauma, rapid growth, and nutrition. Research has found there to be a genetic link between parents and their offspring, with certain breeds more likely to develop the disease. Osteochondritis usually occurs during periods of rapid growth and therefore could be linked with nutrition (e.g. a high calorie diet or one that promotes rapid growth.) Over exercising a young dog will aggravate the condition.
How Canine Myotherapy helps Osteochondritis Dissecans
With osteochondritis surgery is normally required in which the cartilage is reshaped by removing the abnormal cartilage, and exposing the deeper blood vessels, improving the blood supply to the cartilage and by removing any free floating bits.
Canine Myotherapy can help by working on secondary and compensatory muscle issues, supporting muscular health, thus promoting normal movement of the affected joint. Post surgery it will help improve circulation and the healing process and by working on rebalancing the muscles that have been affected.
Depending on the severity of cartilage damage or stage in the animal’s treatment, myotherapy would not be applied directly over the affected joint as it might disrupt the area and be too painful, however by working on the dogs muscles Myotherapy is highly effective at flushing oxygenated fresh blood into the area which naturally encourages the dog’s own natural healing processes.