Tia is an 8 an a half year old staffie who was referred to us from Aran Vets in Llangefni. Unfortunately Tia had a number of issues and had had ongoing spine and joint problems. Her main presenting problem was something called intervertebral disc disease.
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst (herniate) into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis.
Tia is a lovely dog but had been on and off in pain for a long time she would get very anxious when seeing the vets. Surgery is an option for intvertebral disc disease but involves long periods of cage rest. Tia had previously ruptured her cruciate ligament and has not coped well with being confined so it was thought it was best to try conservative management.
Her general gait was poor she had very little spinal muscles to palpate. Her hind limbs were poorly muscled and Tia couldn’t stand very well and was what we call ataxic which meant that she was , swaying when walking, could hear occassional scuffing as her feet bent over and dragged her claws. This meant Tia was prone to getting sores on her legs and had boots to avoid sores. Tia would quite often knuckel which meant her legs gave way beneath her and her neurological exam showed she was very slow.
We are so lucky to have so many facilities that could be of benefit to cats and dogs with neurological problems and Tia was like a blank canvas where we had lots of options. Initially Tia had laser therapy and the results were positive in that Tia was able to start standing square and the idea was to start building muscle tone. Because nerves run down the spine it was thought that acupuncture could help.
While there is some debate over definitions, it’s generally accepted that acupuncture points (acupoints) concentrate clusters of free nerve endings, small blood and lymphatic vessels, and mast cells, part of the immune system. Small, sterile needles are placed into specific points to stimulate muscles, nerves, circulation and the immune system.
Functional MRI’s reveal that acupuncture activates pain-associated brain stem regions. The specific mechanism of acupuncture on IVDD has not yet been fully explained, but it’s surmised that it reduces local swelling, inflammation and pain; decreases cord compression, scar formation and tissue oxygen deprivation; and restores damaged nerves.
In medical and veterinary research there is a lot of published research into acupuncture as a treatment for IVDD.
This video was taken one week after Tia’s first acupuncture session and hopefully this will long continue but we couldn’t be prouder!