Trigger Points: a pain in the neck for dogs too!

What is a Trigger Point?

This is a knotted sore contracted muscle that causes pain in your pet, not unlike ones that could cause you referred pain, stiff neck or reduced movement in your limbs. We can easily complain  that we have muscular pain, but our pets with a long term painful muscle don’t often yelp or cry out.

We can diagnose and treat these painful muscles during a standard health check.

Dr Steve Rose has 3 different methods to help release these muscles that can improve comfort in animals with prior injury, surgery or to increase their agility. Release methods include, manual release (pressure), electostimulation and needling. The best way depends on the location of the trigger point, the temperament of the animal and the tenderness of the point itself.

Often we can see immediate and long lasting benefits from therapy. Many vets are trained only to look for sore joints and lameness (limping) associated with nerve pain. We approach the whole body differently, and one of the largest organs, the muscles are not overlooked.

Trigger points are often secondary to other problems and occasionally they are the root cause as well.

So if your pet is stiff, sore, limping, unwilling to jump up, less active than it used to be, sure it could be arthritis, but have you had their muscles checked?

In humans trigger points are a cause of “referred” pain, meaning that light pressure at the trigger point creates pain at another site (such as shoulder trigger point causing lower arm pain). In animals, we can’t ask them about whether they are experiencing this type of pain, so we look for clues. Such clues can include licking areas of their body (lower arm). Treating offending trigger points can eliminate the lick altogether if the trigger point is the cause.

We especially encourage you to ask if the lameness is not responding to medications or you would like to avoid ongoing medications.

Some useful links – For your own trigger points 

About Stephen Rose

Dr Stephen Rose is the Senior Veterinarian At Animal Doctors - Vets In Port Macquarie. He graduated with First Class Honours at Sydney University Veterinary Science Faculty in 1999. He has owned and managed Animal Doctors since March 2005 with his veterinarian wife Dr Lorraine Rose. He has undertaken post graduate study in Ophthalmology and Cardiorespiratory medicine. He is also a qualified Veterinary Acupuncturist through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.

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