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Frequently Asked Questions

What is orthopedic medicine?

Orthoedic medicine is the field of medicine that is aimed at the prevention, diagnosis, and the non-surgical treatment of injuries or mobility concerns resulting from orthopedic conditions.

What is rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation (called physical therapy in people) aims to restore a patient to previous (pre-injury) level of health.

Which services are offered?

  • Rehabilitation assessment of gait, posture, function, strength and range of motion to determine the physical source of your dog’s functional deficit.
  • Treatments may include laser therapy, Game Ready dry cold compression therapy, electrical stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, gait training with the Gait-Lite walk assist, underwater treadmill, therapeutic exercise, and neuro re-education.
  • Home mobility instructions may include how to optimize safety for you and your dog while completing activities like helping your pet into and out of the car and up and down steps. This also includes home safety and mobility recommendations, including the best ways to help prevent slipping, falling, and re-injury.
  • Home exercise program includes exercises that are simple, safe, and effective for helping your pet reach their highest level of pain-free mobility.

Do you work with my primary care veterinarian?

We would love to make your pet’s care as easy as possible for you. We aim to have a close relationship with all of our referring veterinarians. We may encourage some necessary recheck examinations at our hospital, but we are happy to work with your primary care veterinarian as much as possible.

What is a resident?

A resident is somebody who has already obtained their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree (or equivalent) and is continuing their education to become a specialist in any given field. Residents spend three years at CSU before taking an examination to become certified by the board that oversees their specialty. At CSU, we have many residency programs; specific to Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, we have one resident in Sports Medicine in addition to multiple residents in Small Animal Surgery. Every resident works under the supervision of a CSU faculty member who has already been board-certified in the field that the resident is studying.

Do you have payment plans?

Visit the hospital's Financial Information page for general payment information.

What is regenerative medicine?

Regenerative medicine refers to therapies aimed at restoring or replacing damaged tissues in the body or preventing further damage of the treated tissues. Stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) are treatment options that ultimately fall into this category. They are "cell-based" therapies (i.e. therapies using naturally occuring cells).

What is stem cell therapy?

We frequently receive questions about stem cell therapy and other methods to use regenerative medicine to help patients with musculoskeletal disease. We hope the information below answers some of those questions.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are cells in our bodies that are unspecialized cells that have the capability to become specific tissues and repair the damages in various tissues. Embryonic stem cells are cells from an embryo, which are not used by us. Adult stem cells are cells from an adult individual and these cells are what is typically used in veterinary medicine. Autologous (the patient’s own) and allogeneic (from a donor animal) stem cells have been used at CSU. Most frequently we use (adult) mesenchymal stem cells (MSC). These are connective tissue stem cells and they are multipotent, which means that they can potentially become specific tissues, like bone, cartilage, or ligaments. MSC are naturally present in small numbers in most tissues of adult animals and people and thus can be harvested from easily accessible tissues (most commonly abdominal fat or bone marrow). These cells can then be isolated and multiplied by various means in the laboratory. This process takes about two to three weeks. More rapid processes or products that claim to be stem cell treatments usually have relatively few MSCs and contain mostly other cells (also called stromal vascular fraction or SVF). Like in elder people, elder dogs tend to have fewer stem cells, therefore for elder dogs it may be beneficial to use allogeneic stem cells (i.e. from a young donor dog).

What is PRP?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is easily obtained by drawing blood from a patient and spinning it down a few times in a specific way. This process takes about 30 minutes. PRP contains a concentrated number of platelets (i.e. three to five times greater than in the peripheral blood of the patient). Various mediators and growth factors from the platelets are thought to be associated with the beneficial effects of PRP-treatment.

Which conditions are treated?

Most frequently, arthritis and muscle/tendon/ligament injuries are treated with regenerative medicine. Our service does not perform injections for neurologic problems or back arthritis (please consult with the hospital's neurology service for these inquiries).

Do they work?

Preliminary studies have shown some clinical benefits to treatment with MSC and PRP. While the terms "stem cells" and "regenerative medicine" imply that tissues are regenerated (i.e. cartilage could be restored), this is unlikely to happen with either treatment. Beneficial effects of these treatments may actually come from immunomodulation (modulating the immune response in the treated tissue) and anti-inflammatory effects and are thought to last 6-12 months. While we believe that MSC and PRP have potential for various conditions, there is a shortage of conclusive clinical studies in dogs confirming this suggestion. This is why we have several ongoing clinical trials at CSU investigating this question. Particularly for arthritis cases we encourage owners to evaluate all currently available treatment options – please refer to our arthritis web page for further information.

What is the timeline for these procedures?

At CSU we generally use allogeneic MSC for patients that enroll in our research studies. This comes with the advantage that the cells are more likely to cause beneficial effects and that your pet does not need to undergo a procedure for collection of tissues (which requires heavy sedation/general anesthesia). Please refer to our clinical trial web page for further info. PRP can be generated and injected within a two-hour window. Injections are generally performed one to three times (usually with three to four weeks in between) depending on the condition. The number of injections and timeline depends on the diagnosis.

Is there a risk with these procedures?

Adult MSC are unlikely to cause side effects when administered locally. If intravenous injections are performed, there is some concern for allergic reactions but it is very low. Allogeneic MSC appear to be safe based on the available literature, but donors need to be screened carefully to avoid disease transmission. There is a slight risk of cancer development with MSC, however, it also appears low. Since PRP treatment uses the patient’s own blood, it is considered safe. Short-lived, self-limiting, non-destructive side-effects may be possible after use of the products (e.g. local inflammation). If injections are performed into the joint, short-term worsening of lameness may be observed.