The Joint Anatomy Consists of:
- Articulating bones
- A fibrous capsule enclosing the joint
- A slippery lubricating joint fluid to facilitate joint motion
- Cushions of cartilage to facilitate frictionless gliding
Cartilage consists of what is called matrix, which makes up 95% of cartilage. Chondrocytes secrete matrix and make up the other 5% of cartilage material. Cartilage matrix consists of tough, structural fibers called collagen.
Proteoglycans soak up water and create a cushion similar to a waterbed, which helps to absorb the pressure exerted on the joint as it works. The proteoglycan molecule looks something like a bottle brush: it has a long handle (the “proteo” part) and the long bristles called glycosaminoglycans (or GAGs) that soak up the water.
Over the years, through either injury or poor conformation, cartilage wears down or is damaged, and arthritis results. The body must then make more matrixes and will require the raw materials to do so. Polysulfated GAGs may be injected into the body, where they will be distributed to any joints currently undergoing cartilage repair.
It turns out that polysulfated GAGs represent more than just building materials. They have anti-inflammatory properties of their own, which help slow down the actual damage to the cartilage. Beyond simply making more matrixes, they promote enzyme systems that facilitate other aspects of joint repair and help the joint create more lubricating fluid.
Adequan® is a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan.
- Adequan® is given as an injection and so is able to reach all joints but it seems to have a special affinity for damaged joints.
- Adequan® should be avoided in patients with blood clotting abnormalities as a matter of caution.
- Adequan® is best given as a series of injections, starting twice a week for a month, then once a week for a month, then every other week for a month and finally, once monthly.
- After an effect is seen, Adequan® injections are given on an as needed basis.
- Adequan® is formally approved for use in dogs and horses but may also be used in cats with good results.
- Adequan® may be combined with NSAIDs and with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.