Dogs Body Canine Massage
Tel: 07967 099603

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Orthopaedic & Muscular conditions can affect dogs' mobility and can be painful and debilitaing.  Massage is greatly beneficial in managing these conditions and so I have listed below some of these and how massage can help.
This is a chronic, degenerative joint disease that is caused by the progressive inflammation and deterioration of the cartilage, bone and soft tissue of one or more joints.
When the cartilage that line the bones in a joint breaks down, the joint effectively loses its "cushion".  This causes friction between the bones, which leads to pain and decreased mobility in the affected joint(s).  Inflammation of the cartilage can also stimulate bony growths (spurs) to form around the joints and thickening of soft tissue.
Although any joint in a dog's body can be affected by arthritis, the most commonly affected joints are hips, elbows, knees, wrists and lower back.
  • Relieves muscle tension
  • Improves mobility and flexibility
  • Reduces pain and swelling
  • Improves circulation generally
  • Warms surrounding muscles making them more supple
  • Helps to relax overcompensating muscles as well as stiff muscles
  • May help slow down the degeneration process
This affects the ball and socket joint of the hip.  The head of the large bone in the dog's leg doesn't fit snugly into the hip socket.  The problem is that the socket itself is not well developed, and it reates a lot of stress on the joint.  The muscles don't develop as quickly as the bone grows and a situation is created where the weight of the joint has to bear is greater than the capacity of the ligaments, tendons and muscles around the joint.  Thus joint instability develops.  This in turn leads to a greater wear and tear than the joint would normally experience.
  • Decreases pain
  • Helps to strengthen muscles
  • Helps mobility
  • Helps flexibility
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Helps the dog to exercise normally
  • Relieves soreness and stiffness
  • Corrects muscle balance
  • Relieves tension 
This is the abnormal increase of bony spurs attempting to restructure damaged disks that causes motor and sensory pain and disturbances from encircled tissue pressure exerted in the nerve.  It is an ageing disease of the disks between the vertebrae.  It is caused by stress on the joints in dogs which are active but hereditary factors can also cause this condition to develop.  Symptoms can be made worse by stress, poor diet, being overweight and lack of exercise. 
  •   Provides comfort and relief from pain with gentle massage
  • Helps to control the referred pain due to nerve irritation
  • Promotes mobility and flexibility
NB.  Areas of bony spurs are treated with extreme care.
This is where the kneecap (situation just above the knee joint in dogs) will luxate, or jump out of the groove rather than sliding up and down the groove.  This will in effect "freeze" the leg as the dog holds it up off the floor.  Luxating patella is caused by past trauma to the knee such as a fall or being hit in a road traffic accident.  Genetics and breeding can also cause this as well as malformation during the growth phase in a puppy.
  • Minimises pain
  • Reduces soreness/stiffness
  • Helps keep your dog active and mobile
  • Ensures areas of overcompensation and pain referral are minimised
  • Encourages weight bearing on all 4 limbs so that all limbs used equally which will minimse the risk of issues occuring in the other knee
  • Helps prevent tightness in other areas such as down the back
There are 4 ligaments which criss-cross over the stifle to give the knee support, flexibility and movement thus providing joint stability.  Rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament is a common injury which the ligament has been torn or severed from its point of attachment to the bone, making the leg weak, unstable and lame (ligaments attach bone to bone).  Tearing of this ligament is not as severe as rupture but is still very debilitating and can result in a rupture if not treated.  There are plenty of things which can cause the damage including being very overweight, slipping on surfaces such as laminate flooring as there is little grip, sudden twisting of the knee (braking and twisting when chasing a ball).  General wear and tear, past injury, poor muscle tone, genetics and structural abnormality (being bow legged for example) all contribute to damage.
  • Aids recovery quicker after an operation
  • Aids recuperation time by minimising pain and aiding comfort
  • Helps get your dog walking again with improved mobility
  • Encourages weight bearing equally on all 4 limbs
  • Helps to strengthen the affected leg
  • Reduces and minimises areas of overcompensation and pain referral
Massage heavily influences the circulation system and so it is an ideal therapy for the recovering dog as the blood and lymph is moved around the body, imitating exercise, to ensure that metabolic waste and toxins (including anaesthetic) may be flushed from the body to encourage a speedier return the health.  A good massage can be compared to a walk but without the dog having to put in the same effort.
Having any operation places stress and trauma on a dog and, just like the human. it can leave them feeling lethargic, aching, stiff, depressed and sad.  Massage can help prevent any adhesions and scarring which can result from an operation.  By stimulating the nervous system via the use of specific massage strokes, endorphins are released to ease stress and anxiety in the dog.
Massaging a dog recovering from surgery results in them recovering quicker and better than if they did not have a massage and so should be seriously considered by owners.  For best results massage should occur around 2-3 weeks after surgery and with appropriate veterinary consent.

Some of the more common muscular conditions are explained below. 
A muscle problem is basically nothing more than an exaggeration of a normal condition, i.e. the contraction of a muscle. For various reasons the contraction fails to release and thus becomes a spasm, a rigid knot. This can become true of specific injuries where massage can explore soft tissue more thoroughly than any other therapy as the therapist can use his or her hands to feel the muscles and become aware of the problem and treat it accurately. The only difference between one muscle problem and another is the extent of the spasm and its location.
A spasm is a sudden involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles which have been overworked or over used.  As a muscle goes into spasm it will feel very tight and tender to touch.  A muscle will stay in spasm to protect the site from further injury.  Spasms usually occur due to prolonged uncomfortable activity, muscle weakness or aggravation of an underlying, existing issue causing tightness in muscles resulting in a dog being unable to move in their normal way due to pain on movement.  Althought spasms are painful a dog may not show any outward signs of this pain because in the wild this would be seen as a sign of weakness in the pack.
Trigger points are small, hyper-irritable contraction knots found in any skeletal muscle in the body which causes pain when touched as they are usually very tender.  They give easily under pressure and release fairly quickily.  In a dog the over contracted muscle will begin to shorten which reduces the range of motion in the muscle and can cause pain, lameness and a change in body posture.  This then has a knock-on effect to the rest of the dog's body as other muscles are forced to overcompensate and so become sore and tender to touch and are incredibl painful when gentle pressure is applied.  There are many factors which contribute towards trigger points, such as jumping in and out of the car, injury, over-compensation in conditions such as hip dysplasia and arthritis, collisions and agility exercises to name a few.  A trigger point forms primarily as the result of toxin build-up (mainly lactic acid).  Slugglish circulation can also cause a trigger point due to lack of activity in a dog.

Myofascial pain occurs when the fascia (the 3D cobweb of the body) becomes restricted and tight, like taught clingfilm.  Fascia covers every organ, nerve, muscle etc in the body and allows muscles to slide and glide. However this can cause the fascia to adhere to the skin causing pain and discomfort (myofascial pain - reduced mobility and stiffness).  It can make the muscles feel like they are being strangled and restricted and thus has a knock-on affect to the whole of the dog's body.  A dog with myofascial pain may display the following:

Skin twitching/fasciculations
Exaggerated panniculus response
Unwilling to be petted or touched
Seems to have a tickly spot when you scratch your dog and makes the dog grimace (no, they are not smiling!)
Fur flicks or coat changes
Nervous or anxious dog (we hold a lot of emotion in our fascia)
Restricted Range of Movement
Appears stiff/sore/slow
Tight skin
Yelping out in pain for no apparent reason or when touched in a particular area

Common place for myofascial pain is in the Thoracic/lumbar areas (behind the shoulders along the back up to and in front of the pin bones)

I have been trained in the Lenton Method of myofascial release work so you know your dog is in good hands! 
A strain is often referred to as a "pull" and involves the tearing of muscle or tendon fibres, ranging from microscopic damage (grade 1 strain) to complete ruptures (grade 3).  The tearing of muscles or tendons is most likely to occur during sudden acceleration or deceleration which is something dogs do a lot of, particularly when chasing an object such as a ball.  This can be a debilitating and painful condition commonly resulting in not being diagnosed correctly.  A strain is like an elastic band being stretched and stretched until it eventually snaps.  When a dog pulls a muscle they may yelp or cry due to the sudden sharp pain and this can result in limping/hobbling.  Depending on the severity of the strain, the dog may go off their food, experience bruising, inflammation, pain and weakness.  Whilst working and sporting dogs are more at risk of a strain, a strain can happen to any dog at any time.
When tissue damage occurs, some bleeding will take place and will develop into scar tissue, which is a vital part of the initial healing process.  However, very often too much bleeding occurs, which can lead to excessive amounts of scar tissue forming.  With chronic inflammation, more scar tissue will continually form as the condition persists.  As a strain starts to heal itself, scar tissue will begin to form which will begin to affect the muscles' natural movement which may result in recurring strains.  
Once a muscle has been damaged with a strain it will never be as strong as it was before and can re-strain as a result (known as the strain, re-strain cycle).  If you think about the handle coming off a mug, you may use a strong glue to put it back together but the mug will never be as strong as it once was and is likely to break again.  The same can be said for a muscle pull.  Once the acute phase of injury has passed, (72 hours post injury and up to 5 days), massage is very beneficial.
Scar tissue is the fibrous connective tissue which forms a scar; it can be found on any tissue on the body, including skin and internal organs, where an injury, cut, surgery or disease has taken place and then healed.  Thicker than the surrounding tissue, scar tissue is paler and denser because it has a limited blood supply.  Although it takes the place of damaged or destroyed tissue, it is limited in function, including movement, circulation and sensation.  Other than with minor cuts and scrapes, scarring is a common result of any bodily damage.  When scar tissue has formed it is in the chronic stage.  The acute stage is the initial injury, sub-actute is while it is healing and chronic is long term.
Scar tissue is formed after a dog has pulled a muscle (Strain).  Scar tissue can be broken down with massage and a professional massage therapist should have a good working knowledge of scar tissue remodelling.  This means they can identify the strain, know which muscle it is on, break the scar tissue down (as much as possible, depending on the length of time the injury has been there) and realign the fibres.
Massage maintains the entire body in better physical condition, prevents injuries and loss of mobility in potential trouble spots, helps to restore mobility to injured muscle tissue, boosts performance and endurance and extends both the good health and the overall life of your dog! 
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