Complementary & Holistic Therapy
It is estimated that 80% of dogs over the age of 8 will have started developing arthritis in one or more of their joints. All the moveable joints of a dog e.g elbows, hips, shoulders, wrists etc have a covering of cartilage which is a nice shiny surface that enables smooth movement in the joint. Over time this cartilage can wear away and cause bone to rub on bone. This not only causes pain but can result in bone spurs forming. These reduce the range of motion of the joint and combined with the pain means dogs slow down, become reluctant to exercise, become depressed and often put on weight. All these things combine to reduce your dogs overall comfort and it may ultimately lead to early euthanasia.
The muscles surrounding the affected joints will either have to work harder to provide extra support OR may be under used if the dog is not fully weight bearing. In the latter case other muscles will be working harder to compensate.
Maintaining a healthy weight is vital, the more overweight a dog is the harder it will be for them to live with this condition.
BENEFITS OF MASSAGE FOR ARTHRITIS
Treats muscles that are over- compensating when dogs shift their weight because of arthritic changes in joints.
Relieves tension in muscles that are splinting the affected joints because these muscles can be both tight but weak at the same time.
Enhances blood flow all around the body for dogs that are less mobile.
Natural form of pain relief.
Increases flexibility and elasticity in the muscles
Addresses myofascial pain caused by abnormal load bearing
Moves lymph around the body for dogs that are less mobile.
HIP & ELBOW DYSPLASIA
Hips are what are called a Ball and Socket Joint. Dysplasia means poor or abnormal development of a tissue, in this case bone. In HIP DYSPLASIA the bone of either the head of the femur (the ball) and/ or the acetabulum (socket) of the hip are abnormal meaning that they don't articulate correctly. This means that the hip joint may partially dislocate causing pain and abnormal gait, such as “bunny hopping” Any laxity or abnormality in the joint will lead to damage of the cartilage and cause secondary problems usually osteoarthritis and the formation of bone spurs which will inhibit normal movement and cause pain.
Elbows are a HINGED joint so basically it is either open or closed.
Dogs may have one or both elbows affected. It is more common in large breeds but any dog may be affected. If it is a single elbow then you will see a pronounced head nod when the dog walks (head goes UP when the affected limb strikes the ground and down when the sound limb strikes) If it is both elbows they might display a strange paddling like gait and have their front paws turned outwards slightly when stood.
BENEFITS OF MASSAGE FOR HIP & ELBOW DYSPLASIA
Relieves muscles that are having to work harder to “splint” the affected joints. So this will mostly be the Gluteals in Hip dysplasia.
Dogs will throw more of their weight forward when they have hip dysplasia so massage will relieve the muscles that are taking more weight.
All orthopaedic conditions will eventually result in myofascial pain because of the unnatural way the dog moves so specialised myofascial release techniques can relieve this.
Unnatural gait means that all muscles are put under an increased strain so massage addresses ALL of the body not just the bits you can see have a problem.
Massage is a natural form of pain relief and releases endorphins, feel good hormones into the body promoting the rest and digest reflex
CDRM - CANINE DEGENERATIVE RADICULAR MYELOPATHY
This is a similar disease to that of MS in humans and is unfortunately progressive and incurable.
Classed as a neurological disease it gradually affects the hind limbs and is often seen as:
Staggering, “drunken sailor” walk, properly called Ataxia.
The back feet turning under and being dragged, so you will see the tops of the paws become sore and the nails wear on top.
General back end weakness.
Dogs may trip themselves up when they turn.
It doesn’t appear to be painful in itself but dogs will throw their weight forward to compensate.
Keeping them exercised is important. Walking them over different terrain and objects which forces them to think about their proprioception i.e. the placement of their feet will stimulate nerve and brain action.
For late stage CDRM it may be worth considering a cart for your dog to keep them mobile.
BENEFITS OF MASSAGE FOR CDRM
Releases and relaxes front end muscles that are compensating.
The structured touch of massage helps tune the dogs brain and nervous system into each part of their body.
Passive Range of Motion exercises help proprioception.
Increases blood flow to all areas Nerves need a constant supply of oxygenated blood to function.
IVDD INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE
Many long bodied and short legged dogs are prone to this condition.
In Type I the disc between the vertebrae bulges or herniates very fast and compresses the spinal cord and vertebral nerves. It usually happens when jumping and landing.
In Type II IVDD the outer layer of the disc wears away over time and gradually the disc bulges out and upward into the spinal cord, putting pressure on the spinal nerves.
You may have seen the moment the disc herniated and the dog will be in intense pain and yelps for example.
Other symptoms of both types may include an arched back, snapping when touched on the back. Vocalising i.e. whimpering. Partial or complete paralysis of the back end.
Tense neck and overall posture, walking very carefully.
BENEFITS OF MASSAGE
If the condition is to be managed with conservative crate rest OR by spinal surgery massage can be beneficial but ONLY when the Vet allows.
Massage can help rebuild atrophied (wasted and weakened) muscle that has been under used during recovery. This is usually muscles in the hind limb.
It will relieve areas that have been held in a tense state as a result of the condition, this is particularly in the neck and abdominal area.
Sends blood and nutrients to the affected areas thus speeding recovery.
CRUCIATE LIGAMENT DAMAGE & TPLO SURGERY
Ligaments are soft tissue structures that are made up of Collagen (mostly) and Elastin. Their function is to connect bone to bone and as such are critical in keeping bones where they should be.
There are several ligaments in the knee joint of your dog, one such is the patellar ligament which is extracapsular meaning it is outside of the joint capsule and can be felt (palpated). Two ligaments in the joint capsule that cannot be seen or felt are the Cranial (anterior) cruciate (meaning cross) ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament.
The cranial cruciate ligaments function is to stop the lower leg slipping backwards away from the thigh bone (femur).
It is usually the cranial ligament that tears and surgery is almost inevitable to fix the problem.
TPLO or Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteopathy is the most common type where the top of the Tibia which in dogs is a sloping structure is cut and pinned in order to change the angle so that it is flatter. This removes the need for the cranial ligament.
Normal Clinical Massage should be introduced (at your vets discretion) between 2 and 3 weeks post surgery. If left too long it will reduce its effectiveness.
I am trained in a specialist technique called Manual Lymphatic Drainage too which is an extremely light specialist massage that can be performed after only 3 days post operatively.
The benefits of MLD is that it reduces odema (swelling) around the site of the surgery and encourages the flow of lymphatic fluid to the lymph nodes. This makes your convalescent dog more comfortable and helps them fight any possible infections.
BENEFITS OF MASSAGE FOR CCL DAMAGE AND TPLO
Reduces pain and swelling and releases endorphins.
Encourages your dog to start weight bearing again on the affected limb
Minimises the strain on areas that are over compensating when the dog is sending their weight forward.
Sends nutrient rich blood around the body helping to repair tissue that has been damaged during surgery.
Encourages the body to rid itself of waste products (including the remains of anaesthetic)