Prevention better than cure

I thought it was interesting to look and compare just two of the clients that I have seen in the four two weeks. One is a spaniel that had ‘gone off’ his hind legs, his diagnosis was an ‘dehydrated’ disc; the other a super fit gun dog that had been out running on a walk then returned to the owner with his tail held to one side and exhibiting behaviours that were grumpy and short tempered with his house mates.

I have cited clients from 4 weeks ago as I have now seen them for a course of three treatments and two treatments respectively and I can report on their changes.  Also, to perhaps consider the diversity of the cases but also the possibly correlation between prevention or cure?

The spaniel with the de-hydrated disc came to see me accompanied by a desperate owner who thought her 6-year-old cocker was beyond hope. The NSIAD’s (anti-inflammatory) drugs had not really worked as he was still intermittently crying in pain. All his normal activities had become modified and he was sleeping all the time but really fidgety, in an attempt to find a comfortable position; his appetite had also decreased.  The x-rays had shown a disc issue but not sufficient for him to be operated on; this was one really unhappy dog and extremely worried owner!

When I first saw him he was obviously not overly keen to be manipulated as I could see that every part of him was pained and the thought of any manipulation that would be uncomfortable could be too much to bear!

I started working over his neck and this was (as I would expect) hypersensitive and was resistant to having too much treatment.  As with all dogs, we must remember that it is their body and their pain therefore there is absolutely NO RESTRAINT, unlike other organisations that restrict the dog from moving from the treatment area.  By giving this choice, it allows the dog to understand what is happening and they work it out for themselves, even though it hurts, they recognise what we are doing and they then enter into the process voluntarily.

It took me quite a bit of patience for Murphy to return to have different areas of his body treated. It has got to be understood by practitioners that this is a such a worrying time for a dog as they really do not know may happen in the treatment, whether the therapist is going to suddenly manipulate them in a way that would create even more pain – this patient and successful building of trust, by giving each dog choice, is a major contributory element to the success of our type of treatment.

I have now seen Murphy three times and his owner is so happy she said to me ‘I really do not know what would have happened to Murphy if you had not treated him’.    I have given his owner some techniques and exercises to continue and I will see him again in six weeks’ time to see how he is ‘holding together’.  We at Galen like our owners to understand what is going on in their dogs’ bodys’ and also be able to maintain their dog’s health with safe but effective techniques and exercise/s then continue with timed intervention and follow up treatment from us.

So how did Myotherapy actually help a disc problem? From assessing Murphy, he most certainly had old loading and weight bearing issues from when he was very young; I would go so far as to assess that even before he was homed, as a very young puppy; sadly, this is so common that puppies suffer injury before they even leave the litter.  The compounding effects of these old undetected injuries and a full lively life can create a ‘perfect storm’ that will impact on a dogs lower back, shortening the muscles that stabilise the spine and therefore creating pressure over the discs.  By easing his whole body these muscles ease allowing better movement and flexibility back to his vertebrae and help the structures to re-align.

Going to the other extreme, I also saw an amazing fit and fantastically muscled working gun dog who had suffered some form of trauma or accident on a walk.  The indicators post trauma were; looked distressed for a few minutes and did not want to move, became grumpy with the other dogs he lived with, and would not lie on his back, normally his favourite position and his tail took on the attitude of a ‘swimmers tail’.

So often, a dog that has suffered a trauma or accident such as this, would just be rested.   Rest post-accident is essential but what generally happens is that when the symptoms ease and the dog looks as if they have recovered, they would then go straight back into full work. This is exactly the point where adaptive change starts.

However, I am delighted to say that this was not the case for this dog, his owner brought him for treatment before his body had started to adapt following the accident and the forces caused through the accident could be tracked through reading the tissue responses.

When I studied him in walk, his hind quarters looked slightly stiff, however what didn’t obviously show was that his neck and chest had also been implicated by the accident.  By assessing the tissue response, it became evident that he had suffered a severe rotational injury, in other words, he must have come to a sudden stop and cartwheeled, suffering a whiplash to his neck and lower back!  No wonder he was in great discomfort.

After the treatment it was reported to me that he had slept for a day.  After two days however,  he was not grumpy anymore with his other house mates, was lying flat out on his back and his tail resumed its natural position.  Basically, almost back to normal (but he still needed to be rested for a few weeks to allow a full recovery)!

Two dogs, two different scenarios, but were they?  The question is, what if I had seen Murphy when he was younger?  Would his condition have become this critical? From my experience I would, without doubt say, no, it wouldn’t!

What about Ralph?  What if he hadn’t had the treatment?  He is a working gundog, picking up and working hard.  What if his neck had not been treated?  How would that have affected his whole working life and his quality of life.  The answer to that question is undoubtedly yes!

His handler was thrilled as she really knows her dog and her comment was ‘if he hadn’t had this treatment it would have inevitably been with him for the rest of his life’.

Perhaps the only difference between the scenarios and eventual possible scenarios is the correct soft tissue treatment to prevent their bodies adapting to compensate.

We have amazing people doing amazing things with our dogs, performing operations that just a few years ago would not have been possible.  However, why don’t we give prevention a go first before it goes critical? I just wish as Myotherapists we could see more dogs before their body’s break.  Prevention is undoubtedly better than cure!

If you would like to find out more about this or anything else about Galen Myotherapy please contact natalie@caninetherapy.co.uk

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