Muscle pain is caused by the formation of Myofascial Trigger Points. Muscle pain in pets can be difficult to diagnose, so it is often overlooked and not treated properly. Trigger points can lead to muscle weakness, decreased flexibility, and change in gait.
If you have had a massage, you know what trigger points are. They are localized, tender “knots” that form in muscles from overuse. They form when a muscle is fatigued and can no longer fully relax. They are tender when pressed and can be associated with referred pain and a local twitch response. They form in muscles due to overuse. This same thing happens to your dog when he compensates for arthritis or an injured joint. Muscle pain is probably as common in dogs as it is in people.
Trigger points can be treated in several ways, usually a combination of compression, laser, and dry needling.
Compression is the basis of massage. Pressure is exerted on the trigger point until the muscle softens and is less sensitive.
Laser improves blood flow to the muscle, which helps with the removal of toxins and the delivery of oxygen, allowing the muscle to return to normal function.
Dry needling is the most effective but also the most uncomfortable treatment. An acupuncture needle is used to explore the trigger point until it elicits a local twitch response. This twitch releases the trigger point.
The treatment used on your pet will depend on the tenderness and location of the trigger point, and the temperament of your dog.