In May of 2007, Bruiser was rushed to an emergency animal hospital with severe back pain and mild neurological deficits (paralysis). His caretakers, Christy and Mike, knew immediately that something was terribly wrong when he stopped eating and made a horrible grunting noise when he tried to curl up, or after a walk.
A neurologist at Northwest Veterinary Specialists quickly ordered an MRI and diagnosed Bruiser with Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD). IVDD is when one of the disks between the vertebral bones either bulges or bursts into the area surrounding the spinal cord. Often the only cure to this painful disease is surgery; luckily the neurologist that examined Bruiser determined that his injury was mild enough to respond to strict crate rest, supplemented by anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Though Bruiser’s spine eventually healed, his attitude and comfort level never fully recovered. Even on medications, Bruiser suffered some chronic pain and discomfort, even a year after his injury. He was much less active and less likely to play – definitely not normal for a three-year-old dachshund. Bruiser’s caretakers desperately wanted him to be pain-free, so they turned to Dr. Lisa Yung to determine if veterinary acupuncture might be a good option to help control his pain.
Dr. Yung evaluated his trigger points-points in the muscle that are painful, tight and inflamed, similar to when humans experience a “knot” in the neck. She also noted some slow reaction to the “flip foot” exercise – a neurological test that can indicate spinal cord dysfunction by gauging the amount of time it takes a pet to right their paw after the veterinarian tucks it under.
Like all of the other acupuncture patients Dr. Yung has worked with, Bruiser accepted the needles very well. She placed the needles according to the disease process he was suffering, then after a therapeutic length of time removed them without any pain or discomfort for Bruiser. Bruiser’s response to the first treatment was very dramatic! Immediately after removing the needles, his response time to the flip foot exercise had greatly increased.
Christy and Mike were shocked by his behavior at home – he began jumping up on furniture that he hadn’t even attempted since suffering the herniated disk. They also noticed that he’s clearly more comfortable, and has a wider range of motion. Bruiser had a second acupuncture treatment 2 weeks later. Dr. Yung noted that many of his trigger points had completely resolved. She again treated the remaining trigger point, and since then his comfort level has increased even further. With the help of glucosamine supplements, his recovery has been incredible!