Andrew Armitage BSc BVM&S MRCVS
After an initial degree in Physiology, Andrew obtained his veterinary degree from Edinburgh University in 2002. He joined Greenside Veterinary practice in 2008 and became a partner in 2009. His special interests include advanced regenerative therapy techniques and rehabilitation.
He is particularly interested in investigating the use of Class IV laser therapy with stem cell therapy and PRP, for acute and chronic conditions. Andrew is currently researching combination therapies for spinal disorders and osteoarthritis.
Andrew has worked in the field of regenerative medicine for the last four years. He initially started treating cases in general practice but has now established a referral practice in the Scottish Borders.
Andrew kindly agreed to answer the following questions:
What are your feelings on how we currently manage this common condition?
In general, arthritis management in the veterinary field is relatively basic and unimaginative. There is no clear guidelines on how an arthritic patient should be managed and there is a lot of undiagnosed animals suffering from this condition. There are a lot of different treatments options for arthritis available, but vets tend to use their own treatment protocols based on what works for them and their clients. This inevitably involves using a NSAID and a joint supplement. Intra-articular treatment options are not as common place as they are in human medicine and are under utilised by general practitioners. Current management strategies are more pharmacologically based, and physical therapy, lifestyle/environmental adaptation, biological therapies and newer treatment options tend to be overlooked.
As a veterinary surgeon what do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?
Management of canine arthritis requires client education and compliance. It involves finding a management strategy that suits the owners lifestyle and expectations whilst dramatically improving the quality of life of the animal. Effective pain management has to be the primary goal and this can only be achieved using a multimodal approach.
You are one of a number of pioneering vets using regenerative medicine in managing arthritis, and getting very promising results. What advice would you give to owners that would like to consider this as a treatment option for their own dog?
This is a relatively new treatment option that is minimally invasive, drug free, and uses the body’s own cells to repair and regenerate damaged tissue. With this technology we have the ability to turn back the clock and alleviate the clinical signs of arthritis with a simple injection. I do not see any side effects or adverse reactions and it provides a long term benefit to the animal without the need for drugs in most instances. It is much less invasive than surgery and should be considered before salvage procedures are undertaken. It is the only treatment option that addresses the underlying pathology instead of masking the clinical signs and has a very high success rate when used in the right hands.
How do you see treatment options for arthritis progressing over the next ten years?
I think that regenerative medicine will be used more commonly and will be combined with physical therapy and other non-pharmaceutical treatment options. Targeted intra-articular treatments and addressing compensatory issues with physiotherapy and rehabilitation should be the future.