One of the therapies available is to get injections of medications straight into the hip joint to help reduce pain and inflammation and help promote a healthier cartilage and synovial cell fluid, which is joint fluid. So there’s different types of injections and different types of injections have different therapies that are associated with them and they have different pros and cons. So let’s start with one of the more traditional therapies, which is an injection of steroids right into the joint. So when you inject steroid into a joint of either a dog or a human, what is does is it reduces inflammation and pain immediately in that area. So the benefit to steroid injection is that it does provide pain control.
The cons are that you have to have it done repeatedly because it does not last forever. And so you do need to keep having it done. Another con is the potential for any kind of injection in the joint, is the potential of introducing any kind of infection into that joint through the needle. Another con to chronically injecting steroids into joints is that it actually inhibits the cartilage from growing back and it actually inhibits cells from doing what they do normally because steroids are such a potent anti-inflammatory that sometimes inhibiting that inflammation can actually reduce the cells ability to do their job. So benefits of steroid injection: rapid pain control, lasts for quite some time, anywhere from four to six weeks. Drawbacks are potential of infection, the fact that the steroids itself do not cure the disease and don’t actually help the cartilage to be any healthier, and then the other thing is you’re not actually curing the problem.
Also if you continually inject steroids into any animal, human, dog, otherwise, you are upsetting the adrenal cortical axis. So you are putting them at risk for a development of a condition called Cushing’s disease, which is a hormonal condition that is associated with having too much steroid in the system. So that is another potential drawback of injecting steroids into any joint on a repeating basis. Not the best therapy that’s out there, should only be reserved for the absolute worse cases out there, where surgery is not an option.
There are other kinds of injections in joints that are used to treat hip dysplasia. One of those injections could be stem-cell therapy, another is something called platelet-rich plasma. Stem-cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma, neither of them can cure the disease. What they do is they can promote healthy cartilage maintenance, they can reduce pain and inflammation, and they can help the dog be more mobile without the negative side effects that are associated with say a steroid injection. There are several different stem-cell therapies available. The platelet-rich plasma therapy is also available. If your veterinarian is not doing it, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation to somebody who is. But those are also available to try and maintain healthy joint function and healthy cartilage and joint fluid for as long as possible. The cons to that, again, you often have to get multiple treatments, you can’t just get one treatment because eventually the effects will wear off, and you do have the risk of introducing types of infection into that joint by injecting anything into it.
Author: Dr. Sarah Wooten
A graduate of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and a member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists, Dr. Wooten has 16 years of experience in small animal general practice, and 9 years experience of writing and vlogging. You may have seen her speak at Fetch DVM360 conference, NAVC (or VMX), AAHA, AVMA, or WVC, or you may have seen her articles and videos on DVM360, Firstline, Vetted, Healthy Pet Magazine, The Bark Magazine, Vetstreet, Chewy. or PetMD.