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Author Archives: Dr. Tami Shearer

Platelet Rich Plasma

Regenerative medicine is a type of care that uses tissue engineering and molecular biology to assist the body’s own repair mechanisms to help heal itself to restore function.

Platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP) is a type of regenerative medicine that harnesses the growth factors found in the blood to improve recoveries. There are many types of growth factors found in platelets that work to allow the body to heal better and faster because they can help initiate new connective tissue, blood vessels and bone regeneration.

PRP is used at Western Carolina Animal Pain Clinic for the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis and in ligament injuries for pets that are not candidates for surgery. They can also be used to help fractures to heal. PRP can be used in acute or chronic conditions.

Simply put, a blood sample is drawn from the pet that needs therapy. It is then processed by centrifuging the sample to separate the growth factor rich platelets. Once the platelets are harvested, a reagent is applied to the sample to get the platelets to release their growth factors. The PRP sample is then injected back into the pet under a local anesthetic and/or a light sedative. The process is well tolerated by pets.

Platelet rich plasma therapy works differently than regenerative stem cell therapy but is less invasive (no general anesthesia is needed) and has some other benefits because it is affordable for most pet owners.

The PRP therapy is often coupled with other rehabilitation techniques like laser therapy, therapeutic exercise and acupuncture to enhance the success of the treatment.

Pets and Cancer

Like in people, pets of any age can develop cancer, but older individuals are at higher risk. Cancer refers to a group of cells that grow quickly, invade or spread throughout the body. Different types of cancer may affect any area of the body ranging from the blood, bone, brain and breasts to the skin, pancreas, liver or kidneys. For pets, early detection can improve the chances of recovery by offering the most options for treatment. For example, a small bump surgically removed early in its development may be curative of that type of cancer and prevent its spread.

Therapy options for cancer in pets have improved. There are new medications like protein kinase inhibitors that are available to treat mast cell cancer with minimal side effect s. The improved scientific understanding make conventional therapies like chemotherapy and radiation safer and more effective than ever before with less side effects. The veterinary profession’s understanding of supportive or palliative care can improve quality of life by treating the side effects of the cancer. Acupuncture, supplements and certain herbals can also support a patient with cancer.

Below are 10 questions to ask yourself every month to screen your pet for cancer:

  1. Does my pet have any sore that will not heal?
  2. Is there bleeding or discharge from any body opening?
  3. Are there abnormal lumps, bumps or swellings that persist?
  4. Is my pet having difficulty eating or swallowing?
  5. Is my pet losing weight?
  6. Is my pet giving off an offensive odor from a particular area?
  7. Is there any difficulty in breathing, loss of energy or lack of stamina?
  8. Does my pet limp or have a lameness that persists or worsens quickly?
  9. Does it take more time for my pet to urinate or defecate or is there straining?
  10. Is my pet aging quickly or have a change in behavior?

Pulsed Signal Therapy Perfect For Pets

Pulsed signal therapy (PST) is a technology that is being used widely in Europe and Canada to provide pain relief for people that have arthritis or various other injuries. It is now being used in the United States to help pets with various forms of pain including conditions like osteoarthritis and tendonitis.

Interestingly, the therapy merges traditional and non-traditional forms of medicine. The technology actually utilizes the body’s ability to heal itself. PST is a non-invasive therapy that promotes new bone and cartilage growth through the generation of a low-powered electrical field that mimics the body’s signal that helps to repair damaged tissues.

In addition to having no side effects, the proven science behind the PST make it even more appealing. Studies at Yale University of Medicine and in France, Italy and Germany demonstrate that 70% of human patients treated show significant improvement. (2 out of 3 patients actually get substantial relief). In addition to symptomatic relief, studies suggest that PST also treats the condition itself.

PST is a painless therapy that is delivered in nine-30 minute treatments to achieve the best results. Symptoms that a pet is having pain problems include limping, reluctance to climb steps, falling behind on walks, difficulty getting up, stiffness after exercise, licking of a joint, personality change, loss of appetite, or worsening of symptoms in cold or damp weather.

For pets contact: Dr. Tami Shearer, Sylva, NC, 828-586-3300
For people contact: The Vancouver Pulsed Signal Clinic, Canada, 604-732-5938.

Pain in Pets

Sometimes we are uncertain whether our pets are hurting. The inability to communicate does not negate the possibility that pets are experiencing pain. Animals may communicate pain in subtle ways that might include changes like being less active or sometimes restless. Some pets may be slower to get up or lie down. Pets may behave more reactive, aggressive, timid or depressed. They may also change their tail carriage, the way they hold their ears or back posture. Physiologically, pain pathways in animals are similar to ours and can cause some unique changes with health if not managed properly. The hidden affects of pain can cause increases blood sugar and blood pressure. Untreated pain increases hormones that suppress the immune system. This results in slow healing and can contribute to infections.

There are new ways to manage pain in pets ranging from new drugs to regenerative stem cell therapy. Non-invasive therapies without side effects like laser and pulsed signal therapy have been FDA approved to treat osteoarthritis. Rehabilitation therapies, used for years with people, can be used to help pets. For example, therapeutic exercise, manual therapies and ultrasound can help a pet heal faster. If our Western, conventional medicine fails or falls short of a good recovery, traditional Chinese veterinary medicine can help through prescribing herbs, special diet, and acupuncture.

Please consider a pain evaluation if you are concerned your pet maybe having early pain symptoms or needs help for a long-term, chronic condition. Most initial visits last 1 hour. I accept all pets in need of help with pain, mobility issues, and alternative care.

Pain Therapies Available:

  • Regenerative Stem cell Therapy
  • Pulsed-field Electromagnetic Therapy
  • ESTIM, NMES
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Healing Touch for Animals
  • Pulsed Signal Therapy
  • Therapy Laser
  • Therapeutic Ultrasound
  • Disease Modifying Agents
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Chiropractic Care and Massage

Dr. Shearer has been in general practice for over 25 years and has an advanced degree as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner. She will soon complete her advanced degree as a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner. Currently there are only 26 veterinary professionals in the world with this degree.

Trigger Point Therapy For Pets

The treatment of trigger points for pets with pain may help speed recovery when there has been an injury or chronic pain. Untreated trigger points can evolve in hard-to-manage pain conditions and actually prevent a recovery. Trigger points are painful areas located in muscles or fascia that, with careful examination, will palpate as hard nodules of various sizes. In addition to interfering with muscle function, these nodules in the muscle can trap or compress nerves and may result in a pain that is sharp and burning. The size of the point in pets may vary depending on the size of the patient and may range from 3 mm to 5 cm. Biopsies of trigger points show that there is actually a microscopic change of the cells that takes place in the muscle. The changes in the cells form contraction knots and giant muscle fibers.

There are two main types of trigger points, latent and active. Latent trigger points only hurt when they are touched but still prevent proper functioning of the muscle.

Active trigger points evolve when there is overuse or injury of the body. These points cause pain when the muscle is used, and when severe, even at rest. Trigger points can result in referred pain in a location that is distant to the point.

For example, if a pet has a neck injury on the right and the head tilts slightly to compensate for the pain, a trigger point will develop on the left side to compensate for the unequal weight distribution. It will cause pain and shortening of the muscles on that left side. Without treatment of the trigger point opposite the side of the injury, the pain may not resolve and actually worsen.

There are predictable locations to look for trigger points. Some of them correspond to acupuncture points. Some common trigger points can be found in the following muscles; the quadriceps, gluteus medius, tensor fascia latae, semitendinosus/semimembranosus, pereneus longus, pectineus, iliocostalis lumborum, infraspinatus, and triceps muscle.

Individuals trained to identify trigger points in pets include Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioners, Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioners, chiropractors trained in veterinary chiropractic, and veterinary acupuncturists. Some pet massage therapists can also identify these points.

The low-level laser is an excellent device to treat these areas because of the relatively brief time it takes to treat a trigger point. Other forms of trigger treatment like massage and acupuncture can be used in combination with the laser therapy. In summary, trigger points can create pain and dysfunction even though the original injury and if left untreated can evolve in hard to manage chronic pain conditions.