Modalities for Rehabilitation of pets with a special focus on IVDD patients.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy can be an effective treatment for inflammation, pain, and swelling if applied early in the disease process. Cold therapy inhibits the mechanical, physical and chemical actions of pain and inflammation. Cold therapy can be applied using ice and gel packs which can be purchased commercially. Homemade ice packs, towels and cold-water soaks can also be used. Cold therapy is best used within the first 72 hours of the injury or surgery.

  • Vasoconstriction (reduced blood vessel size that limits blood flow)
  • Decreased swelling
  • Reduced cellular chemical reactions
  • Pain Relief

Cold therapy works by shutting down blood flow to a damaged area, this minimizes leakage of fluid thereby reducing swelling. Cold temperatures inhibit cellular chemical function making it effective in preventing the damaging effects of inflammation. To prevent excessive cooling application of cold therapy should be limited to multiple short sessions (5-15 minutes four times daily). It is best to improve comfort of this application by placing a pillowcase or towel between the cold source and the skin. Cold therapy should not be used in debilitated animals, animals with low body temperature, animals which have circulatory disease, diabetes or pressure sores.
IVDD can occur acutely. Acute expulsion of the intervertebral disc causes intense inflammation of the spinal cord, spinal nerve roots and ligamentous structures of the vertebrae. Cold therapy applied directly to the affected disc area can be effective in reducing the impending swelling. In cases of thoracolumbar disc disease. The pet may be seen to jump off furniture and scream or yelp. There may be pain over the middle of the back or the pet may have a hunched appearance. The application of a cold pack over this area may prevent significant swelling in the spinal canal thereby reducing the amount of spinal cord damage from this event. Homemade ice packs (alcohol, water, ice, slush bags made with zip-lock bags containing crushed Ice and rubbing alcohol) are more effective than gel packs or gel beads purchased commercially. Apply this over a wet or dry towel between the skin and the cold pack. Apply for 15 minutes every 6 hours.