effective fixes for joint problems in dogs

Learn how gold bead implants, prolotherapy and CMO can help heal hip dysplasia, knee injuries, arthritis and other joint problems in dogs.

Dogs of all ages can suffer from musculoskeletal problems. The pain, stiffness and lack of mobility these problems cause can severely affect a dog’s quality of life. I’d like to share three unique “fixes” for some common joint problems afflicting dogs, including arthritis, hip dysplasia and knee injuries. Gold bead implants, prolotherapy and CMO often provide permanent help for these conditions, working quickly to heal your dog and saving you both time and money.

1. Gold bead implants for dysplasia and arthritis of the hips

Let’s begin with the hips. Hip dysplasia is a genetic trait resulting in abnormal formation of the hip socket. It can cause lameness and painful arthritis. Older dogs without hip dysplasia can also get arthritis in their hips. Conventional treatment involves placing the dog on NSAIDS for long periods of time.

Yet, there’s a jewel of a therapy that usually fixes the problem for good and can even prevent future degeneration. Gold bead implants provide reliable, dependable relief that often lasts the rest of the dog’s life.

Gold bead implants can be likened to a permanent form of acupuncture. Tiny gold beads and/or small pieces of gold wire are permanently and precisely placed in certain acupuncture points.

Gold bead implants for use in people were pioneered by Dr. Grady Young in the early 1970s. In 1975, Dr. Terry Durkes began doing clinical research on gold bead implants in pets, and found that they dependably provide significant improvement in all the symptoms of hip dysplasia and hip arthritis while stopping or greatly slowing progression of the condition. He saw a 98% success rate using gold bead implants for dogs under seven years of age with hip dysplasia, and a 75% success rate with dogs between seven and 12 years old. That’s pretty impressive.

Dr. Durkes feels that gold beads stop excess movement within the hip joint, which in turn stops the pain. What follows is a gradual reabsorption of the arthritis and excess boney formations in the treated joints. He found that after about six months, he could actually see improvement on films of the affected joints. The tiny gold beads also exert a positive charge on the surrounding tissues, which in turn helps relieve discomfort and prevents future arthritic deposits.

Today, many veterinary acupuncturists are trained in this technique. The tiny gold beads or wires are inserted through a needle while the patient is under light anesthesia or sedation. The implants stay in place permanently and provide constant stimulation that promotes healing. The procedure is not expensive and when compared to the expense and the dangers of years of anti-inflammatory drugs it a very valid option.

2. Prolotherapy for knee injuries

Knee injuries are another all-too-common problem in our canine companions. The knee is a complex joint. Two of its four ligaments are attached in a crosswise fashion and are called the cranial and caudal cruciate ligaments. These ligaments act together with the lateral collateral ligament to maintain stability of the stifle joint through its full range of motion.

Recent research has found that cruciate injuries are not as simple and straightforward as was once thought. It has been found that spayed or neutered dogs over four years of age are considerably more likely to suffer cruciate tears than dogs that remain sexually intact. Cruciate ligament damage is also seen much more frequently in overweight, neutered middle-aged dogs.

It’s important to understand that ligaments heal very, very slowly. A fresh ligament is pure white because it has very little blood supply; yet it’s the blood flowing through a tissue that brings it the nutrients it needs to heal. When ligaments finally do heal, they often retain only 20% of their original strength, making them more prone to re-injury.

The jewel treatment for knee injuries is prolotherapy. It has been practiced for well over 50 years, and is inexpensive and very effective. Research back in the 1950s showed that damaged ligaments treated with prolotherapy increased almost four times in size.

Prolotherapy is defined as “the rehabilitations of an incompetent structure, such as ligaments or tendons, by the induced proliferation of new cells”. The treatment is simple and straightforward. Injections of a specific mixture of proliferative substances are placed into the ligaments around the joint, stimulating them to regenerate. The fluid also stimulates new cartilage growth. Prolotherapy is effective in the repair of collagen, ligaments and connective tissue.

Prolotherapy is my treatment of choice for cruciate injuries. Before I started using it, we treated cruciate injuries with multiple acupuncture sessions, various holistic supplements and restricted exercise. With prolotherapy, the effects are often seen immediately because healing is vastly accelerated. In many cases, only one treatment is needed, though two or three may sometimes be required. Some veterinarians do the procedure without anesthesia; I decide on a case-to-case basis whether light anesthesia should be used by evaluating the individual patient, his personality and pain tolerance. It’s also important to know if the ligament has been torn from the attachment, since prolotherapy won’t work in these cases. If the dog is using his leg, albeit tiptoeing on it, the ligament is most likely still intact.

I never condone giving NSAIDS to dogs with cruciate injuries. When a dog injures his knee, the pain forces him to rest it. If a person hurts her knee and takes a drug to kill the pain, she knows she has to continue protecting the injured joint – but a dog will run on his knee and further injure the damaged ligaments. Both steroids and NSAIDs have been irrefutably proven to retard healing because the damaged knee is continuously reinjured. Owners may try to limit exercise and keep their dogs on a leash, but invariably, something happens that brings it all back to square one. The consequence is that expensive knee surgery may become the only remaining option.

3. Cetyl myristoleate (CMO) for arthritis and other joint problems

Cetyl myristoleate is an oral substance that works great for arthritis and other joint problems. CMO was discovered by Harry W. Diehl. He was working with Dr. Jonas Salk as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health when he found that CMO occurs naturally in the body of certain animals, and is responsible for joint protection.

CMO is the common name for cis-9-cetyl myristoleate, a relative of the Omega-9 fatty acid found in olive oil. It is a natural medium-chain fatty acid found in certain animals, including beavers, whales and mice — but not in people, dogs and cats. CMO has multiple biological properties; it’s an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, as well as an immune system modulator. Because people and pets don’t have CMO in their bodies, they need to take it orally.

I began using a human CMO product about 30 years ago for extreme cases where nothing else would work. Dogs who were on NSAIDs, doing very poorly and not good candidates for gold Bead implants were sent home on CMO. The results were truly remarkable. Owners called me crying with happiness and their dogs danced into my office for their follow-up appointments just two weeks later.

Years later, I met Jill Nazimek and she told me a very interesting story. She had an 11-year-old, 130-pound Alaskan malamute who couldn’t walk at all. She was going to let him go to doggy heaven when someone told her about human CMO. In short order, her dog became well again and lived happily for two more years. Jill was so impressed she created a chewable pet version of CMO, working in conjunction with the original formulator (Myristin).

Prolotherapy has saved many a dog from knee surgery. Gold bead implants often provide permanent relief from hip dysplasia. (You can find veterinarians who do both at ahvma.org.) CMO, meanwhile, helps restore joint integrity while alleviating inflammation and pain. Dogs with chronic joint problems do not have to suffer!

Two case reports

1. Tara brought her two-year-old Newfoundland, Lily, to me for evaluation. Lily had been diagnosed with very severe hip dysplasia. Her shallow bone sockets had a crippling effect, making even the effort of getting up a painful experience for her.

Lily received a chiropractic adjustment and an acupuncture treatment during her first visit. “Within three days, she was running to the barn and could jump into the car,” Tara recalls. The following week, Lily received gold bead implants. After the procedure, she was able to easily outrun other dogs and has since led a normal life without any need for oral joint products.

2. Betty, a chubby eight-year-old chocolate Lab, had been spayed at a young age. No one who knew her would ever consider her an athlete. She liked slow rambling walks. Betty arrived at our clinic walking on three legs – after a prolotherapy procedure that took about ten minutes, she walked out on four.

Editor’s Note: When it comes to joint problems, prevention is key! This article outlines a few simple ways to keep your dog’s joints in good condition.