Physical Rehabilitation and Your Pet – The Benefits of Cold and Heat Therapy

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Why do some patients respond to surgery with fantastic results while others recover very slowly and possibly with minimal results? The difference may be in the care which the patient receives after surgery, both in the hospital and at home. The benefits of preoperative management as well as surgical technique may be obvious, but what may often be overlooked are the incredible benefits of postoperative rehabilitation. Orthopedists acknowledge that patients benefit from postoperative physical rehabilitation, regardless of their age or physical condition. For some pets, the surgery may only be as successful as the rehabilitation.

The primary goal of physical rehabilitation is to promote healing, and return the affected part of the animal to full function. It is also important to prevent complications that may result from the disuse of the affected area. This can be accomplished through the use of thermal agents (hot and cold packs), therapeutic exercise, aquatic therapy, and / or muscle stimulation.

Something as simple as applying ice packs wrapped in a light towel or thick pillowcase can go a long way in starting the postoperative physical rehabilitation process. One benefit of applying cold packs is to decrease pain and swelling. The local hypothermia decreases the messages sent through the nerves, thereby creating mild pain relief. It also produces blood vessel constriction in localized tissues to decrease swelling and relax skeletal muscles. As a general rule, cold therapy is indicated during acute infection (up to 72 hours after injury or surgery) when the area shows signs of redness, swelling, pain, and or heat. The treatments should last 15 to 20 minutes and should be performed three to four times a day for the first 72 hours following the injury or surgery. Be sure to check the skin several times during the treatment to prevent the skin from getting too cold.

After the infection has subsided, the application of heat is beneficial. Heat applied to the affected area causes mild muscular pain relief, sedation, and increased local circulation. An easy way to apply heat to the affected area is through a warm hot water bottle or moist washcloth heated in the microwave. (the temperature of the heat source should ideally be between 104 and 113 degrees.) The warm pack treatment should last 15-20 minutes and should be applied three to four times a day. If the pet's skin is hot to the touch, use more towels to insulate the heat source.

Veterinarians are able to surgically correct numerous orthopedic problems pet can develop. A physical therapy program to rehabilitate the involved muscles, ligaments, and joint capsules can be a great benefit to your pet. The use of cold and heat therapy is only the beginning of the therapeutic possibilities immediately following trauma and / or surgery.

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Source by Cara Church

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