At Water4Dogs Rehabilitation Center we understand how important it is to properly assess and treat pain for our patients. It is equally important that we empower our clients to do the same when at home. Relying on medication to treat pain and inflammation is completely appropriate, however, many of our patients suffer with long term discomfort and may have a comorbidity which limit their ability to take medication. In these cases it may be worth investing in at home pain management.
One of the most accessible, affordable and effective at home treatments for pain is TENS, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. This technology uses low frequency electrical signals to stimulate the nervous system, encourage blood flow and lymphatic drainage, and block pain signals temporarily. TENS can be easily, and safely placed on the body excluding the eyes, ventral neck and arteries, genitalia, pregnant stomachs, and over the heart. TENS is contraindicated for those individuals who have a pacemaker and caution is advised to those with seizure disorders. Please contact your Veterinarian for eligibility.
Should you wish to begin a treatment protocol please ask your therapy team and they will provide the placement, settings, duration, frequency and basic anatomical information to better serve your pet’s recovery.
Another very popular treatment is PEMF, or Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy. This technology uses magnetic fields which pulse at a frequency which stimulates cellular wall repair via ionic charge. This treatment is considered very safe, however is contraindicated for those individuals with pacemakers and cancer. The Assisi Loop is sold as a single electromagnetic ring field which can be placed around, over, or under the injury on the pet for a 30 minute treatment. There is no sensation involved, however, many pets are soothed by the electromagnetic field.
More intuitive treatments include Ice, Heat and Massage. Gentle touch and massage can elicit production of oxytocin and endorphins which may improve mood and reduce pain. Massage also encourages blood flow to the area, lymphatic drainage, and nervous system stimulation. Ice may be applied to an area of swelling, heat or acute inflammation. Heat may be applied to areas of stiffness, discomfort, scarring, or arthritis. Limit contact to no longer than 10 minutes and always use a cover to avoid skin damage. Do not apply to areas where there are open wounds, infection or damaged skin.
A useful trick for a comfortable ice pack is to use a large freezer Ziploc bag and fill with one part rubbing alcohol to three parts water, then freeze for a gel like consistency. Alternatively for heat, you may want to consider steam heat for a tight muscle or strain over a heating pad as the steam penetrates deeper into the affected tissue. Always use caution when applying heat to an animal and test temperature first. Consider using a steamed wash cloth, or simply wring out one dipped in hot water and epsom salt for a relaxing steam heat into the muscle. You may also find applying massage with the cloth is especially therapeutic.
Enjoy home treatment!