Steroid injections have been shown to be an effective treatment for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia. However, they do carry some risks. These injections of medications straight into the hip joint are done to help reduce pain and inflammation and help promote healthier cartilage and synovial cell fluid, which is joint fluid.
There are different types of injections and different types of injections have different therapies that are associated with them. Each has their own pros and cons. So let’s start with one of the more traditional therapies.
Steroid injections are used to inject steroids right into the joint. When you inject steroids into a joint of either a dog or a human, it reduces inflammation and pain immediately in that area. So the benefit to steroid injection is that it provides pain control that can last from 4-6 weeks.
The cons are that steroid injections must be done repeatedly because it does not last forever. Another con is the potential of introducing any kind of infection into that joint through the needle (this is a con for any kind of injection, not steroid specific).
Also, chronically injecting steroids into joints can inhibit the cartilage from growing back and it actually inhibits cells from doing what they do normally. Because steroids are such a potent anti-inflammatory they can inhibit the inflammation and that can actually reduce the cells' ability to do their job.
Also if you continually inject steroids into any animal, human, dog or 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.
With all these drawbacks, steroid injections aren't the best therapy out there and should only be reserved for the absolute worse cases out there, where surgery is not an option.
Stem-Cell Therapy & Platelet-Rich Plasma
There are other kinds of injections in joints that are used to treat hip dysplasia. One is stem-cell therapy, another is something called platelet-rich plasma. So, neither stem-cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma can cure the disease, but, they can promote healthy cartilage maintenance. They also can reduce pain and inflammation, and help the dog be more mobile without the negative side effects that are associated with a steroid injection. There are several different stem-cell therapies available. Platelet-rich plasma therapy is also available. If your veterinarian is not doing it, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation to somebody who is.
The cons to both stem-cell and platelet-rich plasma therapies are that your dog will often have to get multiple treatments. You can't do just one treatment because eventually, the effects will wear off. You do also have the risk of introducing types of infection into that joint by injecting anything into it.
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