Multiple human studies have been done regarding the effects of exercising on patients with osteoarthritis. Taking in consideration how similar are the effects of osteoarthritis in humans and animals, we could use the knowledge brought to us from the human side to do better treatments to our patients.
Let's look at one of the studies:
Strength training alone, exercise therapy alone, and exercise therapy with passive manual mobilization each reduce pain and disability in people with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review
Journal of Physiotherapy 2011 Vol.57
- Randomized. controlled trial
- Osteoarthritis of the knee
- Exercise, strengthening, physiotherapy, manual therapy in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee
- Supervised land-based interventions
- Individual or group exercise
- Measures of pain and physical function
- Strengthening versus nothing/placebo
- Exercise versus nothing/placebo
- Exercise plus manual mobilizations versus nothing/placebo
- Comparisons of all three
Summary of Results
- All three intervention types were effective at relieving pain and improving physical function.
- The effect of exercise with additional manual mobilization on pain was significantly higher than that of exercise alone.
- There has been one trial that compared a home exercise program with exercise plus additional manual mobilization (Deyle et al 2005) and concluded that manual therapy combined with supervised exercise offers greater pain relief.
- For osteoarthritis of the hip, it was found that manual therapy (focusing on traction, or manipulation, and stretching) resulted in greater improvement in terms of pain and physical function than exercise (which focused on exercise strength and range of motion)(Hoeksma et al 2004).
For the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis in humans, referral to a physiotherapist is recommended. In the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) evidence-based expert consensus guidelines (Zhang et al, 2008), the recommendation to refer to a physiotherapist is based on the positive results of studies that analyzed the effects of physical therapy (Fransen et al 2001) and manual physical therapy (Deyle et al 2005, Deyle et al 2000). In these studies manual mobilizations were part of the treatment.
How we can apply this study to animals?
We all know that knee or hip osteoarthritis are common in dogs and cats causing musculoskeletal pain and physical dysfunction.
Osteoarthritis has great impact not only on the patient's physical function but also on their quality of life.
Exercise plays an important role in the management of this chronic disabling disease. Exercise, in combination with other forms of pain management, reduces pain and improves physical function in patients with osteoarthritis. Exercise is a broad concept that may include strength training, range of motion exercises, hydrotherapy and aerobic activity. Education and home exercises are also often part of our exercise intervention at Pet Fit.
Physiotherapists frequently combine exercise therapy with passive manual mobilization to treat impairments related to joint function. The manual mobilization techniques involve muscle stretching exercises and passive physiologic and accessory joint movements and soft tissue mobilization to diminish pain and improve range of motion.
At Pet Fit we do a complete multimodal treatment for osteoarthritis including exercises, modalities and joint mobilizations, which in combination with the medications prescribed by your veterinarian, will improve to a great extent your pet's quality of life.