Management of canine hip dysplasia using physiotherapy

31 October 2018 – News

While surgical intervention is recommended in many cases of canine hip dysplasia, particularly in young patients and in those with debilitating osteoarthritis (OA), there are times when multi-modal conservative management is preferable.

Several physical rehabilitation protocols can be implemented in the conservative management of canine hip dysplasia. Manual therapy, therapeutic exercises and other modalities, such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation and laser therapy may be crucial.

Manual approaches include massage and cold and heat therapy. Therapeutic exercises include passive motion exercises, proprioception exercises, as well as active movement exercises, such as walking on stairs/ramps or aquatic therapy. These are geared towards improving ROM, balance and pain.

Management focused on reducing pain, maintaining optimal weight, retaining the range of motion (ROM) in limbs and improving muscle strength is generally adequate for dogs with minor issues. Dogs with severely reduced mobility may require additional ambulatory assistance and benefit significantly from aquatic therapy.

Choosing the appropriate physiotherapy protocol will depend on clinical signs, disease progression and lifestyle. Above all, its goal is to manage pain appropriately and improve quality of life.

In Dycus, D. L., Levine, D., & Marcellin-Little, D. J. (2017). Physical Rehabilitation for the Management of Canine Hip Dysplasia. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice.