Secondary joint disease following injury or surgery


What is it?

Joint disease (osteoarthritis or OA) is not just an old dog problem. It can occur in dogs and cats of any age. This kind of joint disease is called secondary joint disease, because it occurs secondary to (following) injury, surgery or other musculoskeletal disease.


Animals which have had surgery on their joints, have had joint injuries, such as cruciate ligament injury, or which have been born with conformational defects such as hip or elbow dysplasia, can potentially develop arthritic changes, collectively known as secondary joint disease. As with primary joint disease, the most prevalent sign is pain due to inflammation within the joint (see joint pain for more information on clinical signs).

It has been accepted in research that a number of dog breeds are at increased risk of OA, mostly medium-large breed dogs such as Labradors. Whilst we cannot stop the progression of joint disease once it begins, we can take steps to reduce the risk of it occurring.

How can I help prevent or manage secondary OA to improve my pet’s quality of life?

Research shows that physiotherapy can play a key role in preventing development of secondary joint disease and is fully complementary to the treatments prescribed by your veterinary surgeon.  The gold standard approach to reducing the risk of development of secondary joint disease is combining veterinary and physiotherapy treatments to optimise the function of the affected joint(s).

Most insurance companies recognise the benefits of this multimodal approach and will pay for physiotherapy sessions if these are recommended by your vet. In these cases physiotherapy can help to reduce pain and lameness and offers long lasting benefits.

Once joint disease begins, we cannot reverse it, we can only control the pain. That is why it is so essential that we take a proactive stance before this occurs, particularly in cases where the risk of developing joint disease is known to be high. See our physiotherapy page for information on how Blackwater Vets can help these patients.

2 Mill Road, West Mersea

Colchester, Essex



Opening Hours:

Mon-Fri:  8:30 - 19:00

Sat: 8:30 - 12:30

Tel: 01206 384999

 Sun & BH: closed

Out of Hours Tel : 01206 842224



Did you know? ..Blackwater Vets is one of only 2 veterinary practices in the Colchester region that holds an award for meeting the International Cat Care's recomendations for cat wellbeing within a veterianry clinic?