Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine: TCVM a different approach to disease

November 14, 2012 by · 3 Comments 

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is a medical system that has been used in China for thousands of years. In the US it has been used to treat animals since the 1970′s. Today acupuncture (one part of TCVM) has shown to be an effective treatment for many diseases both acute and chronic and really has shown to be very effective in treating pain and neurologic conditions thus making it a main stream treatment. TCVM includes using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Tui Na (Chinese massage) and food therapy to treat the body to promote the body to heal itself.

Veterinarians can learn acupuncture and other TCVM modalities at one of the veterinary schools that offer programs –  Colorado State University, Tufts University or the University of Florida; or they can take a certification course offered by IVAS or the Chi Institute. The Chi Institute offers the most comprehensive programs for TCVM including all of the modalities and advanced courses up to and including a Masters Degree in TCVM offered in conjunction with South China Agricultural University. For this reason I choose the Chi Institute for my certification. I have considered pursuing the Master Degree program.

TCVM has changed considerably since its inception in China back when it was primarily used to treat horses and farm animals. Today it is used for those animals and also dogs, cats, and birds. Much has been learned about acupuncture and TCVM through the study and treatments of these companion animals. Here in the US TCVM is used many times, as it is in my practice, in conjunction with other treatments such as chiropractic, western herbs, nutritional supplementation and rehabilitation therapies (laser, electrical stimulation, and exercise). It is exciting to be part of a medical field that although has been around for 3000-4000 years is changing and expanding due to scientific advances and research and more owners being accepting of the treatments. I look forward to many years of treating my patients with TCVM.

The basic premise of TCVM is rebalancing the body to allow it to heal itself. A diseased body becomes out of balance. In TCVM some of the cause of disease is because the body is out of balance and in other cases the body becomes out of balance by an external force, such as a traumatic accident. In either case TCVM can be used hand in hand with western allopathic medicine to help the body recover from disease or trauma. They come from the disease from opposite aspects and can meet in the middle due to a common cause – to heal the patient. Western medicine is great at treating acute problems TCVM is great at treating chronic problems that western medicine has difficulty in curing. TCVM has little to no side effects. Western medicine is far superior in diagnosing due to the technological advances. An integrative approach works wonderfully for the patient because you can get the best of both worlds with superior diagnostics and treatment that has less side effects. Treatment that can approach a disease from both aspects that of treating the disease and that of helping the body heal.

One of my first cases in using TCVM was Bear – Canine Case of the Week: Bear and Cervical IVDD I hope I have many more successful cases such as Bear. He is still a patient and is doing well.

Canine Case of the Week: Bear and Cervical IVDD

August 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Canine Case of the Week is Bear a special dog with Intervertebral Disk Disease in the cervical spine. What makes Bear special is that he is also a cancer patient, OK he is a good dog too! Bear is one of my lucky patients that has been able to take advantage of the new information about acupuncture I have learned from the Chi Institute in my process to acupuncture certification.

Bear - Cervical IVDD case Bear is a 10 year old neutered male black Lab. He was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the jaw in December 2010. The tumor was wrapped around his lower canine and it bled every time he ate. When it was discovered that it was cancer Bear underwent surgery to have the front third of his lower jaw removed. He recovered fine from the surgery and no longer had bleeding every time he ate.

Shortly after his jaw surgery he started limping on his left front leg. Of course thinking the worse his owner brought him right away to a specialist and discovered that no the cancer had not spread but actually Bear had a strained tendon in his elbow. The specialist injected the elbow with corticosteroid and the limping improved. Unfortunately he developed a neck problem 2 weeks afterwards.

Bear has had issues with his neck for a long time. He would be stiff and a little painful to the touch. His owner would give him aspirin and in a day he would bounce back, however this time was different. He did not bounce back and in fact became worse. He could not turn his head to the left without being in pain. Back to the vet Bear went. His cervical spine was radiographed and luckily no signs of cancer, but also no significant findings for a problem relating to his pain in the neck. He was diagnosed with Cervical Intervertebral Disk Disease or Cervical IVDD. An MRI could be done to confirm the diagnosis but with the expense, the fact that an MRI may not be as reliable as once thought for diagnosis of IVDD, the fact that Bear has gone through a lot already and most important the owner was not wishing to put Bear through another surgery and only wants him comfortable for how ever many months she has left with Bear, an MRI was not performed and Bear was given typical conservative pain management pharmaceuticals – muscle relaxers and pain relievers. He did this for a couple of months. It did not help enough and in May it became much worse. He could not raise his head comfortably and he was placed on more pain relievers. In June when nothing else seemed to be helping Bear’s owner called me.

My first visit Bear was mildy depressed but still happy to visit. He could not raise his head very well, looked uncomfortable and certainly could not turn his head left. He was not sleeping well at night. He was very painful when touching his neck or trying to move his head. I spent time massaging and doing chiropractic adjustments to help relieve some of his tension and pain. I also prescribed Gabapentin for the neuropathic pain since none of the pain relievers he was on were seeming to help.

A week later I revisited and readjusted. He was improved. His pain was mostly gone but he still could not turn his head to the left.

The next week I revisited again and now he could turn his head about 50% to the left and still no pain. I adjusted him again and was happy with the progress. However Bear had other plans with his new found reduction in pain.

The problem with giving a dog pain relievers, or doing modalities such as chiropractic or acupuncture is that they do relieve pain. The problem with relieving pain is that the area is still healing and can take 12 weeks to heal completely, but since there is no pain the dog will use the area like there is nothing wrong. If the dog feels better and does something it should not it can re-injure the area and start the whole cascade of events all over. That’s what Bear did!

He was happy feeling better and became excited one day. The owner knew that she needed to keep him calm and not do any activity with him, but Bear had other ideas and decide to play hard for a couple minutes and re-injured himself. When I saw him we were back to square one! He was in pain again and could not turn his head at all. We started over. I massaged and adjusted him and and was coming back the next week, after my trip to the Chi Institute.

Monday, after my course work at the Chi Institute I visited Bear He was out of pain but still could not move his head to the left. I had some small needles that I usually use for horse legs. I did some acupuncture for Bear’s neck and I have a laser machine and lasered a few acupuncture points as well. The treatment lasted about 20 min. After the treatment was over, Bear got up shook all over and whined at the door. He went out, went to the bathroom, came back in and went right for his toy box. The owner and I were quick to tell him – OH NO. She told him to go lay down. The owner and I could tell he was feeling very spunky and wanted to play. He felt very good. So I went onto my soapbox and told her how he needed to rest and definitely needed to be confined and not allowed to play. The problem with acupuncture is that they feel too good and can re-injure themselves. All the while I was talking (preaching) Bear was laying with his right side against a wall, obviously upset that he was told he could not play, and at one point the owner and I looked at him and he looked back at us. It only took a couple seconds for it to register that he was turning his head to the left to look straight back at us!

Here was a dog that had for months not been able to turn his head to the left and I thought I had made some big progress with the chiropractic treatments to get him to turn his head 50% of the way and now he was turning his head like nothing was ever wrong. He had no pain and had full range of motion from one 20 min treatment of acupuncture.

Today I visited Bear and he is almost completely normal. He is off all the medications except for the Gabapentin which he has started weaning off. He has a little limp in his left front leg but his neck shows no sign of pain and has about 90% range of motion. I treated him with electroacupuncture today and will visit him again in two weeks.

I have a new found respect for acupuncture and will be incorporating it more and more in my treatment protocols. I will be suggesting it to clients more frequently and eventually I can see that my practice will be a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine practice using herbs and acupuncture with some chiropractic and physical therapy added. Thank you Bear for the excellent results that were way beyond my expectations. With more treatments I am hoping to help him with his elbow pain and extend his life comfortably despite living with an aggressive cancer.

Dog Health: Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy

September 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you want an alternative to Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as Rimadyl for your dog’s arthritis? dog health

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) is a viable alternative to drugs for the treatment of pain and inflammation in dogs due to a variety of causes such as arthritis, surgery, and wounds. Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy  affects pain perception in many different ways. It affects calcium ion movement, endorphin levels, acupuncture point stimulation, nerve regeneration, circulation, tissue oxygen, and even cellular metabolism. All these affects help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

How does it work? No one really has a definitive answer but there are some good theories and some good scientifically based research pointing to some very likely causes of the success of this treatment. One of the more prominent and most likely reasons for the reduction of pain and inflammation has to do with the calcium ion movement that an electrical field causes in the body. PEMF therapy causes a natural anti-inflammatory process to occur more rapidly. It binds Calcium and in a cascade of events produces Nitric Oxide (NO), a natural anti-inflammatory. NO then continues the natural healing process by reducing pain, improving blood flow, reducing swelling and helps in the production of a molecule called cGMP, a growth factor producer. This growth factor producer helps in the regeneration of blood vessels and tissue growth and remodeling.

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
In the past the machines that produced the electromagnetic fields were large and very powerful. New research however has suggested that the fields do not have to be so large to produce great healing effects. Also with the advancement of technology now we can produce a good healing PEMF with a very small device powered by simple batteries. One of the devices available for dogs and horses is made by the company ASSISI Animal Health. Assisi makes 2 types of units one for the veterinarian for use in the office and a portable PEMF unit for an owner to bring to the barn and do treatments themselves. Considering that treatments should be given for up to 15 min twice a day for 2 weeks or even longer for dogs suffering with arthritis, the portable units are an excellent choice. The cost is about $250 for a unit which gives 90 15 min treatments which is about $2.75 a treatment and should last about 6 weeks.

One of my clients is currently using them for her dog with severe degeneration in its knee joints. The dog is doing very well with nutritional supplements and using the unit every other day for 15 minutes and no need for pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories, so there is no risk of stomach ulcers or liver damage.

PEMF is a great tool for veterinarians and dog owners in the treatment of pain. Check out Assisi they will send information to your veterinarian for you.

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Dog Chiropractic Basics

September 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Chiropractic medicine focuses on problems of joint flexibility and movement. Its intent is to correct deficiencies of movement, thereby, improving the health of the joint and all the structures in and around the joint. The implications of this are astounding when one considers that the spinal column is made up of many joints. The entire body, including all the muscles and internal organs, is supplied off the spinal cord by nerves that pass through the joints of the spinal column.

Chiropractors diagnose and treat subluxations, a joint that is not performing efficiently or effectively. If a joint has a subluxation, that joint is not moving correctly, which disrupts the nutrition to that joint. It also disrupts the nutrition and blood flow to the nervous system in and around the joint. Although the nervous system is not dependent on movement for blood flow, it does provide the nerves with the best blood flow possible. The joints of the spinal column have all the nerves going to the body passing through them. If a joint in the spinal column is subluxated, the lack of movement and subsequent inefficient blood flow affects the nerves that pass through that joint. This inefficient blood flow causes a disruption of the electrical impulses the nerves are supplying to the organs.

An example of the disruption above is muscular back pain caused by subluxations of the lower lumbar region of the spine. The nerves that supply some of the muscles of the back are in the lower lumbar region of the spinal column. When the nerve supply to the back muscles is disrupted, it can cause a variety of responses depending on the amount of disruption, such as back spasms, trigger points, atrophy, or lack of strength. If this is severe enough, the disruption can cause paralysis and/or intense pain.

An adjustment is what treats the subluxation. ”An adjustment is characterized by a specific force applied in a specific direction to a specific vertebra…Adjustments are high velocity procedures designed to deliver maximal force with minimal tissue damage. The adjustment is unique to the chiropractic profession and requires a great deal of skill to control the depth, direction, speed and amplitude of the procedure.” (Dr. Sharon Willoughby, 1998) It also requires detailed knowledge of anatomy, specifically the joints of the vertebral column. The goal of the adjustment is not to put the vertebra back in place, but to increase flexibility of the joint and to reduce connective tissue and muscular restrictions that put forces onto the joint affecting its normal movement. Depending on the severity and length of time a subluxation has been present, chiropractic care is given in a series of therapeutic treatments, varying from a few days to a couple weeks apart to gradually restore normal function. After initial treatments, the animal is then placed on a maintenance program to obviously maintain normal function.

The goals of having chiropractic adjustments can be as simple as having your animal feel and perform better, to resolving biomechanical problems, to helping heal extreme pain and paralysis. Athletes need to perform at peak efficiency without stiffness or discomfort. Lack of proper joint function reduces power and reduces flexibility; for example, subluxations in the lower lumbar area affects the flexibility and power of the hind legs, which is especially important to propel the animal forward – the most important aspect in any athletic performance. Regular chiropractic care helps resolve this issue. It also helps in severely traumatized animals, such as an animal with a fractured leg. Traditional medicine takes care of the actual fracture; however chiropractic takes care of the subluxations occurring from the biomechanical alterations of walking on three legs while the fracture heals. With this wide array of goals, it does seem that any animal alive with a spine should have a chiropractic adjustment.

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