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  • Writer's pictureJill Deming

Healing Paws: Learn how Massage and Bodywork support Canine Cruciate Tears Post-Surgery


One sunny Saturday morning Solo and Mike were returning from a walk. Solo trotted along and gently waved his plumed tail, tennis ball proudly held in his mouth. Periodically he would drop it and Mike would bend down and pick it up, only to have Solo anxiously begging for it.


“I’ll only give it to you if you hold onto it this time” Mike remonstrated.


Solo responded with a wide grin and frenzied tail-wagging. Mike proffered the tennis ball and Solo enthusiastically grabbed it out of his hand.


Once they reached home, Mike noticed that Solo was oddly moving. He would hold up his right hind leg, only briefly touching his toes to the ground. After several days of this, Mike took Solo to the veterinarian. 


 Solo had ruptured his cranial cruciate ligament. The cranial cruciate ligament attaches the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). Its primary role is to support the knee (stifle) during movement. If this ligament is partially or completely torn (ruptured) this results in pain and instability. In an earlier article, I mentioned that Cranial Cruciate ruptures are a contributing factor in the development of arthritis. 



A Cruciate rupture is a condition that requires you to contact your veterinarian immediately. If your dog has a simple tear, it can tear further and further with any additional movement. A complete tear (rupture) requires surgery, whereas a partial tear may not. 


Following surgery to restore the mechanics of Solo’s leg the veterinarian suggested a series of home exercises (and in some cases canine rehabilitation) to return Solo to his former activity level. Find out if Canine Rehabilitation would be helpful for your dog's recuperation by clicking here.


Massage and Bodywork were both a part of Solo’s recovery. Massage stimulated his body to produce chemicals that would increase the quality and speed of healing.


Candace Pert, PhD., in her book, Molecules of Emotion shows how a waterfall of chemicals is released when touch receptors in the body are stimulated. When skin receptors are touched, they transmit messages to the brain. Once the brain receives these messages it initiates the production of chemicals that feed major body systems such as the blood, muscles, nerve cells, tissues, and organs.


Massage is a vehicle that stimulates the skin receptors and releases the chemicals necessary for the body’s optimum performance. The scar tissue that results from surgery is necessary to restore stability to the stifle (knee). Scar tissue left unaddressed can cause many problems in the dog’s body. This is because as the incisions begin to heal,  the body sends many types of cells swarming to the site. The body is unable to lay the cells down in an organized fashion and they end up being distributed willy-nilly, in bunches and clumps.  To get them to lay down in an organized fashion, fascial work (CranioSacral, Myofascial Release) is necessary.


As Solo’s leg was healing, various parts of his body were stressed as he compensated for his inability to move as he had previously. This created a dysfunctional movement that was imprinted in his fascia. 


Fascia is a bodystocking of connective tissue that exists from the brain to the toes. It exists just under the skin and extends three-dimensionally throughout the body. Fascia surrounds every muscle, bone, organ, and all other structures and innervates many of them. Visualize grabbing an area of your T-shirt. Now notice how surrounding areas are also affected. In your dog’s body, as time goes on more and more areas of the fascia will become affected unless you intervene. If this compensation is not addressed, it becomes increasingly debilitating and the dog has difficulty functioning.  

 


Fascia is the bodystocking that exists under the skin and extends down through the canine body.


Scar Work

Another benefit of bodywork is to increase movement. Untreated scars can reduce the ability to move the body optimally, by adhering to the fascia. Scar work can help scars to release so that mobility can be increased. If the dog has more than one scar on the body, the scars tend to grow toward each other, further restricting movement in the area of the body affected. Bodywork can interrupt this process and restore mobility.


All cells in the body which comprise organs and other structures, emit an electrical charge. The electricity in the body is necessary for optimum health. Scars interfere with the transmission of electrical waves. Bodywork can help to interrupt this damaging process, aiding in re-establishing optimum flow. Massage and Bodywork are two extremely accessible tools that provide a myriad of benefits in healing.


Benefits of massage include:

  •  Produces beneficial chemicals that nourish organ systems, increasing the quality of healing.


Fascial work (Craniosacral Therapy and Myofascial Release) addresses the following:

  • Aids in laying down cells (that will form scar tissue) in an organized fashion

  • Increases movement where the scar is located

  • Frees adhesions in fascia and promotes movement in adjacent areas

  • Re-establishes electrical flow that has been interrupted by the presence of the scar



For more information, please contact Jill Deming at jilldeming8@gmail.com



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