Move over muscle damage with persistence of physiotherapy

Muscle damage in cats is quite common, be it because of their mischievous nature or due to natural reasons. The perks of physiotherapy are great to prevent pain and improve strength and mobility in your feline friends.

–by Dr Amarjeet Singh Kanda

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Catsare naturally and behaviorally mischievous in nature. Many times, they face a common health issue i.e., muscle damage because of being overactive. Muscle damage can be of many types and it can be from many situations, such as- trauma, overexertion, myopathy, inf lammatory conditions, metabolic disorders etc. One of the best treatment options for muscle damage in cats is physiotherapy. It can help improve muscle strength, mobility and overall function.

Muscle damage and its causes

  • Trauma– Cats may experience muscle damage as a result of accidents, falls, or physical injuries. This can lead to muscle strains, sprains, or even tears.
  • Overexertion– Cats who engage in intense physical activity or exercise beyond their limits may suffer from muscle damage. This can happen if your pet jumps or runs excessively, leading to muscle strains or fatigue.
  • Myopathy– Myopathy refers to a group of muscle diseases that can affect cats. These conditions may be inherited or acquired and can cause progressive muscle weakness, degeneration, and damage. Examples include fel ine muscular dystrophy and polymyositis
  • Inflammatory conditions – Some inf lammatory conditions, such as autoimmune disorders or infections, can also lead to muscle inflammation and damage. These conditions may include feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) or certain types of myositis.
  • Metabolic disorders – Metabolic disorders like hypokalemia (low potassium levels), hyperthyroidism, or certain nutritional deficiencies can impact muscle function and cause muscle damage in cats.

Signs and symptoms to lookout for

Keep an eye for these signs, as they might indicate muscle damage in your feline friend –

  • Limping or favoring a particular limb
  • Difficulty or reluctance to move
  • Pain or discomfort when touched or manipulated
  • Swelling or bruising around the affected area
  • Muscle weakness or atrophy (shrinking of muscle mass)
  • Decreased mobility or reluctance to jump or climb

If you suspect that your pet has muscle damage, seek the advice of your vet at the earliest.

Perks of physiotherapy

Physiotherapy can be a beneficial treatment option for cats with muscle damage. Here are some ways physiotherapy can assist in the recovery and rehabilitation of cats with muscle damage.

  • Passive range of motion exercises – Passive range of motion exercises involve gently moving your pet’s limbs or joints to maintain flexibility and prevent stiffness. This helps prevent muscle contractures and promotes circulation.
  • Therapeutic exercises– Physiotherapists can teach you specific exercises to perform with your pet to strengthen the affected muscles. These exercises may include controlled movements, balance training, and resistance exercises.
  • Massage and manual therapy – Massage and manual therapy techniques, such as soft tissue mobilization or myofascial release, can help relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and reduce pain in the affected areas.
  • Heat and cold therapy– The application of heat or cold packs can help reduce inf lammation, alleviate pain, and promote healing. However, it’s important to consult with a veterinary professional to determine the appropr iate temperature and duration for your cat.
  • Hydrotherapy– Hydrotherapy involves using water as a therapeutic medium. Under the guidance of a veterinary physiotherapist, your pet may be gently exercised in a pool or underwater treadmill. Water provides buoyancy, reducing the stress on joints and muscles while promoting muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Assistive devices– Depending on the severity of muscle damage, your pet may benefit from the use of assistive devices such as slings, braces, or splints. These aids can provide support, protect the injured muscles, and aid in mobility during the recovery period.

You should ask your vet and he/ she will guide you with proper treatment and medications if required. The vet will design a tailored treatment plan based on their findings based on the extent of muscle damage and any associated issues in your pet.

(Dr Amarjeet Singh Kanda is a physiotherapist and animal behavior expert at Happy Grid Health Care Systems, New Delhi)

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