Don't make a promise you can't keep!

There are many things that can occur as a result of a couple of “social” beers in the pub. This is article is hopefully suitable for anyone with a reading age of 10 and above, so while there are quite a few stories I could tell on this subject (that I can remember), I’m going to keep this family friendly! Hard as it may seem to recall, we had a lovely, warm summer last year and one evening, I had arranged to meet some friends at local pub with a good selection of real ales. It was a balmy evening, so I thought I’d cycle there and burn off a few pre-beer calories in the process.

I’m not normally much of a cycler, so I arrived feeling suitably self-righteous (and a bit sweaty) to be greeted by friends who had arrived more conventionally, by car. The conversation predictably turned to exercise and fitness, and one of my friends reminded me that last season I had agreed to join the hockey team that he played for and had reneged on my promise. At this point, having consumed a fair bit of 7.5% porter and still smug from my cycling prowess, I was quick to vow that I would definitely join the ranks of the Mid Sussex Men’s hockey team in the season to come. The next morning, my thoughts were mainly on what could only be described as a terrifying cycle home down some dark country lanes with some bike lights that would make Florence Nightingale’s lamp seem like the Star of David. I forgot all about my oath until an email came through in September advising me of the first hockey fixture of the season.

There was nothing else to do, but dust down my hockey stick, which had been idle since the arrival of our firstborn 6 years ago, and set off to the match. I did a token warm up involving a couple of “lunges” and an attempt at touching my toes and jogged onto the pitch, just like I had back in the day. Actually the match went pretty well – we won and I even scored a goal! It wasn’t until the next day when the repercussions set in – getting out of bed was painful enough and going up and down stairs was a definite no-no! After a week of discomfort, I consulted a physiotherapist who advised that I had “Achilles tendonitis” – common in middle aged men who play sports only on weekends without much exercise in between. That’ll be me then! I’m happy to say that this hasn’t stopped my hockey come-back, but does mean a fairly persistent, dull ache as the tendons slowly get used to the extra stresses and strains that middle aged life doesn’t normally require!

The result of this is that I am much more aware of the discomfort that many of our elderly pets suffer from in the form of osteoarthritis. This is very common in dogs as they age and also affects a proportion of cats. Larger breeds of dog, such as Labradors are more prone, but any breed can be susceptible. Pets with arthritis will experience anything from low grade constant pain to acute pain if an affected joint is over-exerted or suffers trauma/damage of any kind. The most common early signs of arthritis are stiffness on rising when a pet has been lying down, lameness, licking of the underlying joint and slowing down on walks. They are normally worse in the colder, winter months.

If your pet is showing any of these signs, it is worth getting them assessed. There are many treatment options available ranging from joint supplements, acupuncture, anti-inflammatories, joint injections and even some surgical procedures such as arthroscopy. We offer free assessments with our experienced nurses to assess for elderly problems such as arthritis, or you can have a consultation with one of our vets. There’s a lot we can do, but unfortunately nothing to make middle-aged Achilles tendons young again! Please get in touch if you would like to arrange an appointment.