I treat a lot of dogs for joint pain and injury in my practice. Sometimes surgery is necessary, but not nearly as often as it was before I started using homeopathy. This is especially true for cruciate ligament injuries.
Just about every dog at some time in his life will have some kind of injury or orthopedic problem … sprains, strains, fractures, hip or elbow dysplasia, knee problems like torn cruciate ligaments, patellar luxation … the list goes on.
The severity of orthopedic complaints varies widely. Some don’t require much treatment – just rest and some homeopathic remedies – while others can be very serious, even requiring euthanasia.
If you use conventional medicine, orthopedic problems can be very expensive to treat, often involving a specialist.
Conventional practitioners use drugs like painkillers, muscle relaxers, or anti-inflammatories.
But homeopathy is very well suited for orthopedic complaints, and I’ve found it can often cure the problem with no other treatment.
We Need Inflammation!
Inflammation is essential for healing. If it weren’t for inflammation, we wouldn’t be here – we’d be dead, because we wouldn’t be able to heal without it.
The healing stages of orthopedic issues are:
- Inflammatory – 0 to 2 weeks
- Reparative – 2 to 12 weeks
- Remodeling – more than 12 weeks
The redness, swelling, heat and pain of inflammation are unpleasant, but a necessary part of healing.
Which leads me to the topic of anti-inflammatory drugs, because suppressing inflammation doesn’t promote healing.
Who Said NSAID?
NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In humans, they’re drugs like Tylenol or ibuprofen. Examples of veterinary NSAIDs are drugs like Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx or Previcox.
These drugs work by blocking inflammatory mediators. They reduce pain but they also inhibit healing.
Studies have shown that human patients have slower healing and more joint damage when taking NSAIDs. The number of patients needing joint replacement is about three times higher in those who take NSAIDs compared with those who don’t.
In my experience, the negative effects of NSAIDs outweigh the short term benefits.
Homeopathic remedies give animals great pain relief – even better than I ever observed with NSAIDs.
I don’t stock these drugs in my practice any more. I send clients home with a homeopathic remedy and that’s all they need for pain relief.
I find that animals on a poor diet don’t heal as well, so I always talk to the pet owner about improving the diet of a dog with a fracture or other injury.
To heal, dogs need high quality protein as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
I’m a proponent of high quality fresh diets, whether raw or home cooked.
Poor diet can be a major obstacle to cure and dogs who continue eating poor quality diets have trouble healing.
So, with that background, here are the remedies I use most in my practice for orthopedic issues.
Top 5 Remedies For Joint Injury And Pain
1. Arnica montana (Leopard’s Bane)
- Arnica is ALWAYS indicated as the first remedy for injuries and trauma.
- Any trauma patient who comes into my practice gets Arnica immediately, and my technicians often give it before I see the patient.
- A key feature of Arnica patients is a fear of being touched. If you reach towards them they may scream as if you are hurting them.
- The Arnica patient feels bruised as if they’ve been beaten.
- In Europe Arnica, known as fallkraut, was a remedy for falls, perhaps during mountain climbing!
I use Arnica in very high potencies such as 1M or 10M, but any potency will help.
With a high potency, very little repetition is needed.
If all you have is a 30C or 30X, you’ll probably have to repeat it more often (every half hour or so immediately after the injury).
2. Rhus toxicodentron (Poison Ivy)
- One of the keynotes of Rhus tox is stiffness. Patients often experience pain on first movement but movement makes the pain better
- Warmth or heat lessens the symptoms of the Rhus tox
- It’s an excellent remedy for strains, sprains and arthritis.
- Rhus tox is a good remedy to take over from Arnica after the initial acute stage.
- Animals who need Rhus will be chilly, trying to get warm by seeking a warm place in the sunlight, for example.
- They often have swelling, itchy skin or redness (like the effects of poison ivy!)
With Rhus tox I’ll use a higher potency like 1M or 10M for an acute situation, repeated every few hours if needed early on (similarly to Arnica dosing).
3. Ruta graveolens (Rue)
- Ruta has an affinity for ligaments and tendons
- It’s an excellent remedy for a chronic cruciate ligament problem or other strained ligaments (I’ve used Ruta for Achilles tendon injuries).
- The patient shows similar symptoms to the Arnica patient but isn’t nearly as touchy (they might be irritable and try to bite you, but won’t act like you’re hurting them)
- Good remedy for overexertion injuries.
- Along with Arnica, Ruta is one of the favorite remedies of Olympic athletes (who have to be careful about what drugs they take)
Use a high potency like 1M or 10M, similar to the recommendations for Arnica and Rhus
4. Calcarea carbonica (middle layer of the oyster shell)
Calc carb has a lot of indications for orthopedic cases, especially chronic ones. It’s not really a remedy for acute cases or injuries.
The guiding symptoms for Calc carb are:
- Inflammation of the muscles and ligaments surrounding the hip joint.
- Relaxation of the ligaments around the hip joint.
- Inflammation of the knee joint, cruciate tears or patellar luxation.
- General inflammation of the joints, such as chronic spinal arthritis or spondylosis.
- I also think of Calc carb for any problem involving bone
The first two symptoms above make Calc carb suitable for hip dysplasia. It’s an excellent remedy for a lot of the conditions named above.
For older dogs with a weaker life force, I’ll use a 6C or 30C potency, and give one dose … then wait a month, as you don’t want to push older dogs too hard.
For a younger animal with a stronger life force I’d start with a higher potency like 200C.
Note: This remedy doesn’t need much repetition. I usually give only a single dose and wait two to four weeks.
5. Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey, Boneset)
Symphytum is from the plant comfrey, which early “bonesetters” would put into the cast to help heal fractures.
- It really helps speed the healing of fractures.
- It’s useful in non-union fractures (fractures where each end of the bone has healed over so they can’t heal together, creating movement at the fracture site). These used to require drastic surgery, but there are cases in homeopathy where one dose of Symphytum has healed non-union fractures in as little as two weeks.
- Symphytum follows well after Arnica.
Any potency is useful, but I usually use 10M if I’m beginning treatment soon after the injury.
I give a dose daily for the first week, then one dose weekly until the fracture is healed, usually less than a month.
How I Treat Fractures
I always give Arnica immediately as the first remedy, in a high potency – 10M or CM (CM is 100M). I use 10M for older animals with a weaker life force, but most do well with CM.
We splint injuries the same day. If surgery’s needed for internal fixation (pin or wire, usually for humerus or femur fractures) we try to do it within 24 to 48 hours of the injury.
We give Arnica CM post surgery.
The day after the splint or surgery we start Symphytum, giving it once a day for three to four days, then once a week until the fracture is healed.
Symphytum supports very fast healing. We can usually remove splints within 2 to 3 weeks, and pins after 4 to 6 weeks.
To demonstrate the healing power of homeopathy, here are the results of 80 cases from a two-year period in my practice.
Of the 80 cases …
64 were limb fractures needing splints or surgery
- 50 were splinted below the knee or elbow
- 14 needed internal fixation with pins and wires (above the knee or elbow)
All the fracture patients had Arnica followed by Symphytum.
16 were cranial cruciate ligament injuries, all large breed dogs
Cruciate cases may appear acute because they can happen very suddenly, but they are actually a flare-up of chronic autoimmune disease.
The injuries start with synovitis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the joint), which leads to weakening and rupture of the ligament.
- 12 of these cases were second opinions where pet owners had heard I had a non surgical option.
- Of the 16 cases, 15 healed without surgery. The other case probably would have too, but the owners insisted on surgery, and the dog had the slowest recovery of the group – about three months longer than the dogs who weren’t treated surgically.
- 8 of the cases only required a single dose of one remedy – Calc carb 30C or 200C
I’ve seen some remarkable healing using homeopathic remedies to treat orthopedic issues.
No other pain medicine is necessary … the animals feel fine, are not stressed and show no signs of physical pain. And I sleep more easily at night knowing I don’t have to worry about drug side effects!
How To Give Homeopathic Remedies
- The number of pellets or granules you give is not important. The remedy potency and frequency of the dose are what matters.
- Homeopathic remedies need to come into contact with your dog’s mucous membranes to be effective.
- Try not to touch the remedies with your hands as this can negate the remedy.
- It’s best to give remedies separately from food, but in an emergency just get the dose into your dog whenever you can.
There are a couple of different ways to give the remedies to your dog.
Dry Pellets Or Granules
- Tip two or three pellets or a few granules into the container’s cap.
- Tip the remedy straight from the cap into your dog’s mouth.
- Pulling out the lower lip at the side of the mouth is an easy way to do this.
- If you have the remedies that come in a tube with a twist cap, hold the tube with the cap end down, then twist the tube until two or three pellets fall into the cap.
- Remove the cap and tip the pellets directly into your dog’s mouth.
Note: Be careful not to touch your dog’s mouth with the cap or you can contaminate the rest of the container.
At my practice we keep a supply of small folded index cards. We put some of the homeopathic pellets into the folded cards and use the card to tip them into the dog’s mouth.
Liquid dosing can be easier with dogs who tend to spit the pellets out.
- Stir two or three pellets into a small glass of spring or filtered water (never use unfiltered tap water).
- Stir vigorously and then use a sterilized dropper or syringe to put some of the liquid onto your dog’s gums.
You can keep this solution on your counter for two or three days, covered with a paper towel or saucer. Stir it again before each dose.