Chronic Pain Clinic


Chronic Pain Clinic: Stronger for Longer

Willows is one of the few small animal Hospitals in the UK to offer a Specialist Chronic Pain service with an in-house Specialist in Anaesthesia and Analgesia.

Our Chronic Pain Clinic provides gold-standard treatment for patients suffering from a range of diseases, injuries and deformities.

Working together with colleagues in Orthopaedics, Neurology, Medicine and Anaesthesia, our Chronic Pain service also provides a bespoke treatment programme for patients in need of post-operative rehabilitation, facilitating optimum patient recovery.

Through extended one-hour consultations, minimally invasive intervention and personalised pain management programmes our Chronic Pain Clinic is committed to providing effective pain management, keeping pets stronger for longer.

What is the Chronic Pain Clinic?

Willows’ Specialist-led Chronic Pain Clinic aims to improve the quality and enjoyment of life for your pet. The Chronic Pain Clinic is available to all patients referred by their first-opinion Vet. Once a referral has been made, a consultation will be booked with a Specialist in Clinical Management of Pain who will assess your pet and develop a personalised pain management programme for persistent or inadequately managed pain.


What is Acupuncture?

Modern Western acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine but also on modern science, giving us more understanding of processes occurring in a body during treatment. The best effect can be achieved when acupuncture is used alongside conventional medicine. During the initial consultation, the merits and practicalities can be discussed.


What is electroacupuncture?

Electroacupuncture is the addition of an electrical potential to preplaced acupuncture needles.


Frequently Asked Questions

How is it different from ordinary acupuncture (Dry needling)?
The electroacupuncture device delivers a constant amount of current to the needles, inducing micro-movements (1-2 per second) within the skin and deeper tissues. The high-frequency movements amplify the acupuncture “dose” administered.

Why would my dog or cat require electroacupuncture and not ordinary acupuncture?
Electroacupuncture is usually performed alongside regular acupuncture or dry needling. In most cases a patient will undergo acupuncture for the first few sessions and then electroacupuncture may be introduced in conjunction with ordinary acupuncture if it is found to be appropriate for the individual pet. Electroacupuncture has also been demonstrated to improve the rate of nervous tissue healing or pain associated with nerve damage or impingement.

How long does electroacupuncture take?
Electroacupuncture can be performed during your pain consultation. Compared to ordinary acupuncture, the time to perform electroacupuncture is shorter due to the increased “dose” being administered.

Will my dog/cat suffer during and after electroacupuncture?
Like ordinary acupuncture, your dog/cat may experience minor muscle stiffness or soreness for a day after treatment, but nothing more. In fact, most patients relax and fall asleep during the acupuncture/electroacupuncture session.


What Treatments are Available to Manage Chronic Pain?

The Chronic Pain Clinic at Willows provides a bespoke pain management plan for your pet. This involves the careful selection of painkillers targeting the underlying cause of pain. The most commonly seen patients are dogs and cats with chronic joint disease such as osteoarthritis. In these patients, the alleviation of stiff joints and muscles using a combination of pharmacological and physical interventions such as acupuncture and physiotherapy can go a long way to improving mobility and overall quality of life. The chronic pain management is not however restricted to orthopaedic disease. Patients with a history of back problems and trapped nerves, chronic abdominal disease, cats with chronic cystitis, and even patients with some forms of cancer may benefit.


What can I Expect if my Pet is Required to Undergo Anaesthesia?

The management of chronic pain is ongoing and the response to treatment varies between individual pets. Initially frequent check-ups may be needed for some, however further check-ups may only be required every few months once effective pain control has been established. Acute flare ups or progression of underlying disease may necessitate more frequent visits. In some cases, it may be necessary for you to be referred to another Specialist in a different discipline, for instance orthopaedics or neurology.

An initial consultation lasts an hour. During this time, a thorough history of your pet’s pain management and other relevant events will be discussed. A thorough physical exam establishing a ‘map’ of particularly painful areas (myofascial trigger points) will be performed. Finally, the first acupuncture session will be performed, if appropriate.


Which Patients may benefit from the Chronic Pain Clinic?

Just like humans, as our pets live longer there becomes an increased risk of developing chronic pain conditions. Similarly, as our pets get older they start to suffer with some pain and mobility issues. They become slower, their joints start ‘seizing up’ and they may experience some discomfort.

Any dog or cat with longstanding pain may benefit from a personalised pain management programme. Our chronic pain team can also see pets who are experiencing pain for other reasons, such as back problems and even cancer. If you feel your pet may be in pain, feels depressed or is less keen to play, it is worth discussing with your vet whether your pet may benefit from an appointment. Athletic and working dogs with muscle strains will also benefit from early detection, assessment and appropriate management to alleviate chronic pain.

Meet The Team

Anna Bryla


Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia
MSc in the Clinical Management of Pain

After qualifying from the University of Warsaw in 2003, Anna worked for two and a half years as a veterinary adviser for Kolme, a large pharmaceutical company in Poland. This position enabled her to develop her knowledge in pharmacology and homotoxicology. During this time Anna attended a Management Educational Centre where she completed a one year course in law. In her spare time she worked as a volunteer at an Animal Rescue Centre.

Anna’s vocation has always been to work with small animals and to this end she decided to seek a position in a practice where she could pursue her goals.  In 2007 she joined the team at Willows, where she developed her skills in anaesthesia, critical care and pain management. In 2014 Anna gained her MSc (Master of Science) in the Clinical Management of Pain at the University of Edinburgh. Anna’s key area of interest is the provision of anaesthesia and analgesia for challenging surgical patients.

Outside the practice Anna is a theatre and opera lover. She attends ballet classes and can play both the piano and the guitar. Anna is the owner of two show dogs – an Akita and an Afghan Hound – and she is interested in becoming a dog show judge.