Regenerative medicine uses cells from your pet’s own body to help reduce arthritis pain and inflammation.
Is your pet showing signs of slowing down? Are they not walking or running as far as they used too? Not catching the ball with as much gusto? Trouble or hesitation jumping up onto their favorite bird-watching perch? Unfortunately, many of our beloved family members will start to suffer from arthritis as they age. The changes we see are slow and progressive, and oftentimes we don’t notice they are declining until they are no longer able to do the things they once loved and did with ease.
Alternatives to Pain Meds and Anti-inflammatories
For years, we have been treating arthritic patients with pain medication and anti-inflammatories. While these medications do help to improve your pets’ quality of life and manage their discomfort, they don’t do anything to slow the painful changes occurring within the joint. Since osteoarthritis is a progressive condition, it will also become less effective at managing the pain and discomfort as the disease progresses.
We now have other options, in addition to medication, to help ease your pet’s pain and help get them moving again. Using platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, we can use cells from your pet’s own body to not only help reduce arthritis pain and inflammation but also in some cases to help reverse some of the damage being done within the joint itself. While the goal of PRP treatment is to improve your pet’s quality of life and mobility, in some cases it can also reduce or remove their dependence on oral pain medication as well.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative medicine refers to the process of using one’s own tissue or cells to repair or replace lost or damaged tissue within your own body. PRP, as well as Stem Cell Therapy, are both types of regenerative medicine that are currently used in both animal and human health. Both these therapies use cells from your pet’s own body, which can be applied directly to the affected tissue to speed healing or regenerate damaged tissue. When treating osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease, the cells are injected directly into a diseased joint to help reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and stimulate healthier cartilage and joint fluid. This process starts with a full orthopedic exam and radiographs of your pet’s joints to determine which joints are in need of therapeutic intervention and to determine the level of disease present. In some cases, we may diagnose a condition that would respond better to medical management or surgical intervention, rather than regenerative medicine therapies. After the comprehensive orthopedic exam and radiographs, the doctor will discuss all their findings and recommendations for your pet with you.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections
PRP injections can be used for a variety of medical conditions, from osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease, to wound healing, and ocular and dental disease. For arthritic conditions, the treatment involves sedating your pet and drawing a blood sample. The blood is then placed into a centrifuge that concentrates and removes the platelets from the rest of the sample. Once collected, the PRP is then immediately injected under sterile conditions into the arthritic joints. After the injections, the sedation is reversed, and your pet is awake and usually able to walk shortly after. Typically, the entire process can occur in less than 1 hour depending on the number of sites being treated.
What to Expect from Platelet Rich Plasma Injections
Once injected, the platelet cells activate and have been shown to locally reduce inflammation and pain through various anti-inflammatory factors and growth factors present within the cells themselves. On average, the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effect of PRP injections can last anywhere from 6 months to 1.5 years depending on the severity of the joint being injected. It is recommended that your pet be kept quiet for several days after the procedure, but there is little to no post-injection discomfort. If your pet is currently taking any medications for control of their arthritic pain, they can continue these medications as needed both before and after the treatment.
Stem Cell Injections
Stem cell injections are also used to treat arthritic joints, but can also be used to treat tendon injuries, cartilage disorders, fractures, and some autoimmune disorders. Where PRP collection and injection can be performed within 1 hour, stem cell collection and injection is a multi-step process occurring over several days to sometimes years. The process starts with the surgical collection of the falciform fat pad from within the abdomen. This fat pad tends to have high concentrations of stem cells due to the large number of small blood vessels associated with it. The falciform fat is also very easily collected during a spay/neuter, or other abdominal surgical procedure. Once collected, the fat is stored in a stabilizing solution and immediately shipped to the VetStem laboratory for processing. Once the lab receives the sample, they immediately isolate, purify, and quantify the number of stem cells obtained from the patient. The newly collected stem cells can then either be shipped directly back to our hospital for injection later that week, or they can be frozen and stored for use at another time. Once a treatment time is determined, the patient will be dropped off, lightly sedated, and the stem cells injected into the diseased joints.
What to Expect from Stem Cell Injections
We recommend that you keep your pet quiet at home, and let them rest for several days after injection. If your pet is currently taking any medication to control their arthritic pain, your doctor may discuss changing their regimen for a few days before and after treatment.
Learn More About Treatment Options
For more information on PRP or Stem Cell therapy, or to determine if your pet could benefit from treatment, please call the Mixed Pet Veterinary Hospital to schedule a consultation with one of our doctors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some insurance companies cover stem cell and platelet-rich plasma treatments.
PRP is a very effective therapy for certain orthopedic conditions.
Most dogs respond within the first 1 to 2 weeks. Some may take longer.
Generally speaking, the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effect of PRP injections can last anywhere from 6 months to 1.5 years depending on how diseased the joint being injected is.
Yes. Stem cell treatment has been available for dogs for over ten years.
Stem cell injections last 1 – 3 years.
Stem cell injections are also used to treat arthritic joints, but can also be used to treat tendon injuries, cartilage disorders, fractures, and some autoimmune disorders.