Trigger Points

posted Feb 8, 2015, 3:43 PM by Dana Hatfield   [ updated Feb 8, 2015, 3:47 PM ]

You may not have heard the term, but you definitely know what they are. Trigger points are those annoyingly painful knots in your muscles. Like the ones that make your neck and back hurt day in and day out. They are the points that sneak up on you during a nice relaxing massage and suddenly make you scream - Ouch! Too hard! A good deep massage can help alleviate them, that is if you can get through the pain, because... they hurt!

Muscles are made up of strands of cells lined up in the same direction, called muscle fibers. That way, when muscle fibers contract, they all contract in the same direction, working together to flex and extend your joints.

Trigger points form when stress, strain, injury, trauma, unbalanced movements, repetitive and over use cause a small group of muscle fibers within the muscle to contract and stay contracted. These bunched up muscle fibers feel thicker, and that is why it feels like there is a firm knot in the muscle. Since they stay contracted, they limit range of motion and function, and hurt if you try to stretch them. 

But breaking up the knot and stretching it out is exactly what you need to do to treat a trigger point. A massage therapist will push harder and knead into the already painful spot to try and work it out.... Ouch! An acupuncturist will stick a needle into the already painful spot.... BIGGER OUCH! But you know what they say: "No pain, no gain!" A human can focus and breath through it, which is why these methods can work for us.

Try explaining that to a dog or cat: "I'm going to make you hurt more now, so you can feel better later." It doesn't usually go over well with them, and may result in a bite! What we need is a pain free detangler for muscle fibers. 

A trained veterinarian can palpate the muscles to find the trigger points, and then treat them with a TENs unit: a hand held device that emits a small electric pulse into the muscle, causing it to twitch or contract. When applied to a trigger point, it can gently shake up the muscle fibers and loosen the knot. Now that the muscle fibers are soft and pliable, the veterinarian can guide the animal in a gentle stretch through the normal range of motion, returning the muscle fibers to their normal long and slender shape. This resolves the trigger point in the least invasive way possible, returns range of motion and function, and relieves pain. 

Trigger point therapy, dog, acupuncture, stretching


Back Pain!

posted Jan 13, 2013, 11:06 AM by Dana Hatfield   [ updated Feb 25, 2013, 7:52 AM ]

Back and Neck Pain in our pets is very common and can be very debilitating.  Intervertebral Disc Disease is one of the most common causes.  Cases range from pain (Grade 1), to poor balance, the inability to walk or even move the legs, and finally the loss all sensation (Grade 5).  On top of all that, it is scary for a pet to experience this.

It is commonly treated with steroids, pain medications and surgery.  Long term use of these medications, especially steroids, can have significant side effects on the body.  Surgery, while effective, is costly and poses its own set of risks.

Electroacupuncture (EA) has been shown to significantly help patients:
    • Have a quicker recovery.
    • Achieve greater results.
    • Experience fewer relapses.

A gentle electrical current is run through the acupuncture needles during treatment that stimulates the production of endorphins and other natural pain inhibitors, as well as treat the local Qi and Blood Stagnation.  Most patients find it very relaxing and fall asleep. Some studies have even shown EA to be more effective than surgery alone.  79% of the dogs treated with EA alone, and 72% treated with EA and surgery, made a significant recovery (improving from a Grade 4-5 to a Grade 1-2 within 6 months), compared to only 40% of the dogs treated with surgery alone.

Does your pet have neck or back pain?  Did they already have surgery and are still having trouble walking?  Acupuncture can help.

Feline Asthma

posted Jan 13, 2013, 11:06 AM by Dana Hatfield   [ updated Feb 25, 2013, 7:53 AM ]

1% of all cats have asthma.  Often there is a chronic history of coughing and wheezing, but acute episodes of respiratory distress can occur.  These may be characterized by sitting in a hunched position, open mouth, and straining to breath. 

Triggers include inhaled allergens from the environment, such as: tobacco smoke, kitty litter dust, aerosol sprays, and carpet deodorizers. Therefore, keeping a clean house and avoiding the use of air fresheners and household cleaners that can aggravate asthma are a first line of defense.  Feline Heartworm disease can also cause asthma, but can be prevented by keeping cats on a monthly preventative, like Revolution, which is topical, easy to apply, and affordable.

Many cats with asthma are treated with oral steroids to decrease inflammation and bronchodilators to open constricted airways.  When given orally, there can be side-effects that affect the liver, heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and can cause diabetes and even seizures.   Aerokat, is a specially designed inhaler for cats allowing administration of these drugs directly to the lungs, minimizing side-effects.

Not all cats “agree” to take medications (as many cat owners can attest to), what then?  What if medications are not enough?  Or, what if your cat is experiencing side-effects?  Acupuncture is a safe treatment option that can be integrated to help control asthma.  Stimulation of specific points through dry needles or electroacupuncture has been proven to:

    • Increase mucociliary clearance of the airway epithelium.
    • Reduce airway and pulmonary tissue inflammation.
    • Improve immune response.
Does your cat have poorly controlled asthma?  Consider acupuncture.

1-3 of 3