TCM and Canine Injured Cruciate Ligament

This article was written several years ago when I had my veterinary acupuncture practice, Four Paws Acupuncture on the North Shore of MA. Since that time, Nikki has passed away. We miss her dearly.

Using Traditional Chinese Medicine to Treat Canine Injured Cruciate Ligament
By: Jeanie Mossa Kraft, L.Ac.

Nikki is an 9 year old Schnauzer who just recently celebrated her ninth birthday. During the summer of 2005, Nikki somehow managed to injure her rear cruciate ligament and began limping. Her owner, Maria, took her to see her regular vet as well as a specialist who recommended surgery and anti-inflammatory medication, such as Metcam, aspirin and Rimydal.
Nikki had an strong adverse reaction to all the medication with symptoms of diarrhea and hematemesis (vomiting blood). Nikki was then seen by a veterinarian who practices holistic medicine. This doctor recommended putting her on a natural diet. Maria began feeding Nikki a diet of organic turkey, oats with fresh vegetables. She no longer ate any canned or packaged dog food or grocery store pet treats. Though eating better was good for Nikki, it did not improve her symptoms.
With Nikki’s symptoms worsening, her owner was running out of hope. Nikki’s muscles had begun to shrink, and she was no longer able to take walks around the block. She was lame and in pain, and Maria reached a point that she was seriously considering euthanization. She contacted me in the Spring of 2006,with hopes that acupuncture would help and delay that final decision.
The first acupuncture treatment with Nikki was intense! She is a feisty little dog with a big personality. She was curious and wanted to watch every move I made. She would not allow me to needle many of the points I had selected, however we did manage to get a few needles in the most important spots. Maria, still very skeptical, did not see much change in Nikki’s walking on the next day, however she did notice that she had much more energy and slept without changing positions.
Treating dogs with acupuncture is like a dance. Unlike humans, for whom I can explain why certain points benefit the body, dogs need a bit more pampering. Not every human acupuncture point can be needled on a dog, nor should it. Needling a point that may cause pain is never forgotten by a dog and they usually will not allow you near that spot ever again.
Gaining the dog’s trust is very important. Using the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy in all my treatments helps my patients relax.
Since Nikki was still a bit leery of acupuncture, I also incorporated magnet therapy and laser acupuncture during her follow-up acupuncture treatments. By using these therapies I could stimulate points that she would not allow me to needle. A Chinese herbal liniment was also used externally over the site of the torn cruciate ligament with massage to help ease the pain and promote blood circulation. After the fourth acupuncture treatment Nikki was sleeping much more soundly, her walking had improved and she seemed less stressed.
By the eight treatment Nikki had improved and she was able to take short walks with Maria. A year later Nikki’s muscles have filled out again, she is walking, playing and doing well.
I continue to treat Nikki on an on-call basis. Every so often she gets into a bit of trouble jumping on furniture and needs a tune-up. I believe that acupuncture was only part of the solution for Nikki. The fact she is fed a home cooked meal every day maintains her health and speeds healing, and she has the unconditional love of her owner, Maria.

Jeanie Mossa is author of the book The Woof & Warp of Canine Pain and the NCCAOM approved continuing education course Treating Painful Canine Disorders with TCM. She is now accepting new dog and cat patients in the Old Town, Alexandria Area. Visit Four Paws Healing for more info.