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Everything is connected – Woody update

About a month ago, I wrote a personal Facebook post about my 10 ½ year old, German Pointer x Springer Spaniel called Woody. Things have change significantly since then and as so many of my clients have been asking how Woody is doing I thought that I would write an update.

Woody has a history of Grade 2 strains in his Iliocostalis Lumborum (lower back) causing Hypotonicity (too much resting tone) and discomfort.

I noticed that these issues had started to flare up again as Woody was,

· slowing up on walks

· walking with an unusual gait pattern

· sleeping more

· becoming more withdrawn (isolating himself)

At the time Woody's lower back was too sore to be treated with massage so I used heat to treat the area as it produces the following effects,

· causes dilation (vasodilation) of the blood vessels and lymph channels thereby improving circulation. In doing so more oxygen and nutrients is circulated to the injured area

· soothes the nerve endings

· relaxes the tissues and muscle fibres which reduces stiffness.

Fast forward to nearly two weeks ago, I took my dogs for a walk in the forest. It was a lovely day and Woody was enjoying running through the trees and following his nose. I ended up walking much further than originally planned!

That evening I noticed that Woody looked a bit uncomfortable on his left hindleg

· restricted range of motion

· weight shifting

I made a mental note to check Woody over the next day, however I had completely forgotten that I had booked the dog walker! When I came home from work that evening, Woody got out of his bed to greet me. He was struggling to bear weight on his left hind leg.

So as A Canine Massage Therapists, what did I do?.....


When it is your dog that is injured all training and professionalism goes out of the window! We ended up going to bed and having a cuddle. I admit, I cried and blamed myself. How could I have been so careless?

Woody was rested for the next couple of days, just going outside for toilet breaks. He wore his ‘onesie’ to keep warm and I allowed time for the acute phases of healing to pass.

The acute stage of healing occurs immediately after the muscle has been injured and can last 3-5 days. Inflammation occurs at the site of injury resulting in pain, swelling, heat, redness and loss of function/ range of motion. This response protects the injury, prevents further damaged, removes damaged tissue and initiates the healing process.

Once Woody looked more comfortable, we spent an evening together on my relaxing orthopedic mattress, in the lounge. I started by assessing Woody’s left hindleg and could rule out,

· cruciate ligament sprain (a band of tough fibrous tissue that attaches the Femur – thigh bone to the Tibia – shin bone)

· luxating patella – when the dog’s kneecap shifts out of alignment

· arthritic changes in the Patellofemoral joint (Knee)

It is worth mentioning here that I am able to test for and rule out orthopedic issues, however...

I am not a Vet! I cannot diagnosis!

If your dog does go lame then a trip to your vet is required for official diagnose.

During my assessment however, I did discover the following,

· restricted retraction of left hindleg

· Myofascial pain

· the Quadriceps, Extensors and Sartorius muscles were bound

· repetitive strain injury to the ligament of the Patella (kneecap)

· grade 2 strains and trigger points to the Sartorius (hip flexor) muscle

What does this all mean in laymen’s terms?

Woody has a history of strains in his Longissimus and Iliocostalis (muscles of the back) so to compensate for this Woody braces himself through the back and hindlegs. This causes him to walk with a lateral wiggle and straight stifles (knees). This in turn has caused the overcompensatory issues mentioned above.

Once I had discovered what Woody’s issues were I was able to use my knowledge and training as a Clinical Canine Massage Therapist to treat primary and secondary areas of concern.

What's Next?

It has been nearly two weeks since Woody’s injury so he will still require massage treatments and a few more weeks rest to achieve the best outcome possible.

Going forwards does this mean I am going to keep Woody on a lead for the rest of his life?....


Does this mean I will have to make changes and adaptations to Woody’s Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) so that he can live a fulfilled and happy life for as long as possible? .....


This includes

· Restricting the number of times, he goes up/ down the stairs

· Ensuring rugs are put down over wooden, laminate and tiled floors

· Ensuring all four paws remain on the floor – no jumping up or standing on back legs

· Limiting chase games and boisterous play

· Reducing length of walks or adapting walks to suit Woody’s needs

I am so thankful that my skills as a Canine Massage Therapist allow me to ease Woody's discomfort and improve his mobility in a holistic, non-invasive way to enable him to live a full and happy life for as long as possible.

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