While the joint does seem like a very protected part of the body (with the layers and layers of surrounding cartilage and muscle), it does face it's own hurdles when damage rears its ugly head.
Mechanics of Joint Damage
1. Replace cartilage with lesser cartilage
When cartilage in a joint is damaged, it is replaced by the body with an inferior type of cartilage (fibrocartilage) which is more prone to chipping and breaking.
2. Inflammation shows up
The body's natural response to damage is to send inflammation to the offending areas.
3. And so do hydrolyzing enzymes
As the joint capsule becomes inflamed, hydrolyzing enzymes make their way over. Normally helpful in digestion, these enzymes actually cause more damage to the joint by breaking down the complex proteins that make up joint fluid. This weakens the joint's ability to protect itself from further damage.
4. The joint becomes weaker
The weaker form of cartilage in cahoots with the lack of viscous joint fluid only makes the already-injured joint more susceptible to further damage.
5. Inflammation and the "-itis"
Generally, inflammation is a helpful process in repairing damage in the body. It provides support as the healing process takes place. However, inflammation that hangs around throughout healing and beyond is hard on the body. Arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis (all the "-itises") refer to chronic inflammation as a result of tissue damage. These conditions are very painful because there's the existing joint damage PLUS the increased constant pressure from inflammation.
The Domino Effect
It's been popular belief that cartilage is "lifeless" — that you only have so much cartilage and once you ruin it, it's gone. It doesn't repair itself. And compared to how the skin reacts to injury, this almost seems true. But it's not!
Cartilage CAN heal... it just takes a REALLY long time, with a lot of cooperation from the rest of the body. Just like if you pick at a scab your wound will take longer to heal, so it is with cartilage. If you keep running and jumping on that broken cartilage, it going to take forever to heal.
But obviously we can't just sit around all day, every day, and neither can our pets. So often times, we just remain on this slippery slope: this one traumatic injury has induced a domino effect. We have a harder and harder time preventing or reducing the effects of further trauma because the injured cartilage hasn't repaired itself adequately.
Now it's become a compounding injury.
Comparing Healing Processes
The skin is very responsive to injury:
- The skin is wounded
- The wound bleeds, and the blood clots
- A scab forms to shield outside germs
- Blood vessels open up to allow oxygen to reach the wound
- White blood cells make their way to the scene to fight off infection
- Broken blood vessels heal as new tissue forms from collagen created by red blood cells
- The wound will slowly close in on itself
The new skin may look a little different, as new tissue does not grow identical to old tissue. The new tissue (referred to as scar tissue) is often weaker and less elastic than the rest of your skin, but the opening has been adequately mended.
Cartilage, on the other hand, is not fed by blood vessels, and is therefore far less responsive to injury.
When the skin heals, the blood vessels play one of the most important roles: they allow oxygen and nutrients to get to the wound, which supplies adequate energy for the rest of the working cells. But, because cartilage does not have this luxury, it takes a very long time to heal, and often never goes back to its original state (especially because we continue to overexert it when its damaged). Whether its rough movement, fast compression, or even just simple day-to-day use, once the cartilage is damaged, it has a very hard time getting back to where it was.
In many cases, joint damage that involves this cartilage trauma only worsens over time.
This is why its so important to take a proactive stance on caring for your pet's (and your own) joints! While it may not be obvious in the early stages, joint and cartilage damage can cause far more serious issues down the road. Taking a glucosamine supplement can help support the joints, as glucosamine is naturally found in cartilage.
Getting therapeutic levels of glucosamine is beneficial, as it helps build up the levels of cartilage and fluids that surround the joints. Glucosamine supplements often include chondroitin, and they really do make a great pair. Chondroitin is the structure component of cartilage (it gives cartilage that "sponginess") and helps it resist compression.
There are many other contributors in a good joint supplement to take into account as well:
- Hyaluronic Acid: a component of synovial fluid, helping with the lubrication of joints
- MSM: has anti-inflammatory effects
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: prolonged anti-inflammatory effects
- Herbs: can soothe aches and have anti-inflammatory effects
Our Sound Dog Viscosity has all of these elements, and in adequate levels too! We've taken into account how each ingredient affects the joint health, and formulated this product to contain proper amounts of short-term aids (MSM, herbs), moderate-term aids (glucosamine) and long-term aids (Omega 3s) to properly support the joints.
It's not enough to just have glucosamine because, even though glucosamine is thickening up that joint fluid, hydrolyzing enzymes still come daily and break down the fluid. Adding more glucosamine definitely keeps those enzymes from breaking down ALL the fluid in cartilage on the day-to-day, but by itself, glucosamine won't maintain the joints in the long term.
On the flip side, Omega 3s are awesome for the long-term anti-inflammatory properties, but they don't help maintain the joint daily. It's all these ingredients working as a team that's really given our Sound Dog Viscosity the gold in the joint supplement market.