Osteophytes, Bone spurs, Bone outgrowth
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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of an osteophyte in the human knee joint (inside circle)
Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, relate to growth of the bone, usually in regions where the bone is getting abnormal pressure. The word “spur” is the official term. Bone spur do, however, not have needle-like structures, but are round smooth structures, that take a long time to grow. When the growth reaches a certain size, it may compress adjoining blood vessels and nerves. The leads to pain and inflammation, rarely to muscular atrophy. They are mainly seen in joints and in the spine.
The initial treatment includes usually rest, and the administration of pain medication. NSAID analgesics (e.g., meloxicam) are drugs of choice as they reduce both the pain and the inflammation caused by bone spurs. The pain medication does not need to be given on a daily basis, once or twice a week may be enough. Removal of osteophytes is a last resort surgery. Indeed, this kind of surgery may worsen the problem, in other cases the bone spurs are placed in such difficult location that it is impossible to reach them for surgical removal.
Since a few years, glucosamine/chondroitin has been used to relieve arthritis in rabbit.
For rabbits, the dosage for cosequin is taken from Carpenter's formulary: "use empirically at feline dose". More precisely, we used cosequin in "our" rabbit and started with 1/4 teaspoon BID. After one month, it was dropped to SID for maintenance.
For Adequan: the used dosage has 2.2 mg/kg SC, IM, q once a week during 4 weeks, then q 14d.
Those products do not show an immediate relief; it needs time, usually 4 weeks, to show its positive effects.
Cosequin or adequan do not relieve pain, so pain medication is recommended. Meloxicam (Metacam) is often used. The pain medication does not need to be given on a daily basis, once or twice a week may be enough. There is no rule, just observation of the rabbit and detecting signs of discomfort or pain. According to the behavior of the rabbit, observing its habits, eating, moving, the frequency of pain medication can be increased or decreased, by etc. In one case, the rabbit showed regular relapses. When this happened, ketoprofen was given as long as needed. Usually one or two injections were enough.
Other NSAID analgesic drugs for use in rabbits are described here.
Thanks are due to Frau E. Besomi and Akira Yamanouchi, VEIN (Veterinary Exotic Information Network), for their permission to use their pictures.
Williams JM, Zhang J, Kang H, Ummadi V, Homandberg GA. The effects of hyaluronic acid on fibronectin fragment mediated cartilage chondrolysis in skeletally mature rabbits. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2003 Jan;11(1):44-9.