Veterinary Rehabilitation Specialist Shares His Approach to Osteoarthritis Management and More

On dvm360® Live!™, Matt Brunke, DVM, DACVSMR, CCRP, CVPP, CVA explains how a new product has changed his approach to treating osteoarthritis

This content sponsored by Synovetin OA / Exubrion

Many aspects of veterinary medicine are considered in rehabilitation and sports medicine: pain management, medications, acupuncture and physiotherapy, to name a few. For a veterinary rehabilitation specialist, it all comes down to mobility. The last episode of dvm360®Live!™ featured Matt Brunke, DVM, DACVSMR, CCRP, CVPP, CVA, who shared his multimodal approach to osteoarthritis management and more. Brunke sat down with Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, host and dvm360®, to discuss his journey to a rehabilitation specialty, his experience with military working dogs, and the concept of targeted injectable therapy for osteoarthritis.

Why veterinary rehabilitation and sports medicine?

Brunke has a personal rule: walk your dog one hour a day. That may have been the catalyst that put him on the path to rehabilitation and sports medicine, he said. For Brunke, mobility is directly linked to the quality of life of the patient and the owner of the animal. Helping animals be more active by managing chronic pain and addressing mobility issues allows everyone to get that hour a day that can mean both for the pet and for the human-animal bond.

“The first part is just that it’s quality of life; we want to spend more time with our pets,” Brunke said. “I accumulated a bunch of letters after my name in an effort to fix mobility…and to me, mobility is life…because you want to have an active life with your dog or… other pets, right?

Brunke added that learning to manage and improve chronic issues has been a focus of her career. “It’s become a quest to figure out how to fix things… We don’t always have cures, but the best we can do for [help patients] improving is the key,” he said.

Rehabilitation of military working dogs

Part of Brunke’s rehabilitation journey was serving military working dogs and police dogs. He worked in the Albany area of ​​New York for over a decade, where he had the opportunity to care for New York State Police dogs. He remembers a story in which they brought him a dog with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. The policy at the time, he said, was to care for the dog but remove it from on-site service.

That’s when Brunke made a bold statement: “He’s a 3-year-old dog [who] they had already invested over 6 training figures, so I was a little brash and said, ‘No, we can fix this. We can put this dog back into service in 3 months. And my boss [said], “You just said that in front of the leader of all New York State Troopers, so you better be right.” “This dog was back to work in less than 3 months and served another 9 years after treatment by Brunke’s team. From there Brunke traveled to Washington, D.C. to help treat the working dogs active and retired military personnel with the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Secret Service.

A new modality of multimodal management of osteoarthritis

Brunke described osteoarthritis management as a passion project, which he says can sometimes be underestimated. He said many customers, and even veterinarians, might resign themselves to the idea that animals naturally lose their mobility as they age. “We just think, ‘Well, they’ve gotten older, so they shouldn’t be moving around too,'” Brunke said. “This shouldn’t be a standard [of care] for us… Age is not the disease.

Following this statement, Brunke shared a new modality that his team has added to their toolkit: targeted injectable therapy. He asked rhetorically: Why treat a single joint or a single site with systemic drugs that may have adverse effects? Brunke then told Christman how he uses a product called Synovetin OA® (Exubrion Therapeutics®) in his clinic to treat dogs with osteoarthritis of the elbow. “Synovetin OA is a new treatment that’s injected into that joint – it doesn’t get into the rest of their body – and it starts to decrease all those angry white blood cells and inflammatory things that eat away at the cartilage 24/7. 7. …for 365 days,” he said.

Brunke also added that “Synovetin OA attacks synovitis. That’s what makes it all fluid [and causes] all the pain. He said taking this targeted approach can improve the patient’s symptoms to the point where systemic medications are no longer needed. As of June 2022, his clinic had treated 80 patients and 137 joints with this treatment and was seeing 20-30 degree improvements in range of motion within a month and pain relief lasting up to a year.1


  1. Oliver K. Introduction to rehabilitation: what and how to do physical rehabilitation. Submitted to: Directions in Veterinary Medicine; June 24-25, 2022; Indianapolis, IN.

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