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Written by a Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians course graduate.  Author’s name available upon request.  Signed release obtained from client/author/4908.

Rosie is a senior canine that presented with chronic back pain from chronic IVDD and compensatory pain from osteoarthritis. She underwent an oral pain medication regiment, acupuncture and laser therapy for palliative care to try and improve her mobility and quality of life at home. Through her therapy her overall comfort at home improved and her ability to ambulate around the house. Since therapy a recheck has not been done as she has been in Colorado with her owner.

Rosie is a 13 yo, spayed, Welsh Corgi. She was originally presented to our facility in May 2014 with complaints of being very stiff in the morning and walking with a hunched over appearance. During her exam it was noted by the Veterinarian that she was reactive to palpation of lumbar paraspinal muscles. She was placed on Rimadyl, as needed, and Dasuquin with MSM. In September 2015 she presented to the clinic again for a recheck from an acute episode on August 24th,2015 while the owner was traveling. History stated that she has a sudden onset of significant pain during ambulation, reacted to touch of upper mid thoracic vertebra, and mild ataxia. She has been placed on Tramadol and prednisone for the acute episode. Owner reported that as she tried to taper prednisone to once a day dosing, Rosie started to become more painful and slower moving. On September 11, 2015, spinal radiographs were taken and significant spondylosis from T4-T6, mild narrowing of disc space, and moderate sclerosis as noted in the spine. Rosie was weaned off prednisone and placed on NSAIDs, Methocarbamol and Gabapentin; at that time acupuncture was recommended but declined by the owner.

On April 22, 2016, Rosie presented with the complaint of limping. On PE, Rosie had a normal TPR, and abscess in her right front paw, trigger points along her paraspinal muscles from caudal cervical to lumbar, atrophy of hamstring muscles, very tight quadriceps muscles, trigger points bilaterally in supra- and infraspinatus muscles, and decreased extension in her hips, and delayed CPs in both hind limbs. Rosie was very reactive to just being lightly pet, she would shy away from any type of affection. Her first session of acupuncture was performed that day.

Based on history and presenting clinical signs oral pain therapy was started using Gabapentin at 10mg/kg dose with twice daily frequency. Owner did not want to pursue a full rehab program so acupuncture and laser therapy were selected as the modalities to use to treat her IVDD, chronic back pain, and arthritic pain.  Her first two treatments were just acupuncture and then laser therapy was added. Based on travel and owners availability only 7 sessions were completed and were performed twice weekly for 1 month, owner was going to continue acupuncture in Colorado during the Summer/Fall.

The points used for her sessions started as follows: Hwato 25×25 needles were used – GV20, Bilateral: BL 10, BL 13,14,15. BL 18-23, 26,27,28. BL 54.  GB39,30. Bilateral ST 36. GV14 and BaiHui. Rosie was a very nervous dog and did not settle in the start of her therapy, she would walk around the room during her sessions and I would place a needle as I could. During the end of the session she would tire from walking and stand for me to place hip and knee points. The main focus of her sessions was to relax her paraspinal muscles, which were very tight with ample trigger points from chronic back disease and compensation from arthritic pain in knees and hips. The bladder line, inner and outer, was utilize to achieve this. Electroacupuncture was used briefly and occasionally since she walked the room during her session. No difference was noted between use of electroacupunture and dry needling during her sessions. During her last two sessions, Rosie began to settle during her therapy appointment and these points were achieved: GV20, bilateral: inner and outer bladder lines. BL 10, BL 13,14,15. BL 18-23, 26,27,28. BL 54. GV30. Bilateral ST 36, ST40;  SP 9,10; SI 9, 11, 12. GV14 and BaiHui cervical points, hip triad. Her sessions focused more completely on all her problem areas paraspinal muscles (BL 10, BL 13,14,15. BL 18-23, 26,27,28), bilateral stifle arthritis (ST 36, ST 40, SP 9, SP10), shoulder muscle pain from compensation (SI 9,11,12), and bilateral hip arthritis (BL 54, GB 29, GB30).

Rosie’s overall quality of life improved at home during her treatment time. After her first acupuncture treatment she did experience soreness as a side effect. Acupuncture needling induces microtrauma to the tissue and stimulates a local inflammatory response. Pain relief occurs due to increased perfusion to the local tissue but it is not uncommon for the patient to feel some mild soreness 24 hours after needling (1).  Rosie’s Owners noticed her moving with a smoother gait and rising and laying in an easier manner as her sessions progressed. During appointment times it was difficult to observe/assess changes, as she was always nervous and would walk around the room during her sessions until she tired. Because of her nervousness, laser therapy was greatly used during her session to address areas of pain and inflammation if they were not able to be addressed with acupuncture needles that day. Laser therapy has been suspected to suppress central sensitization with repeated treatments resulting in long term depression of persistent pain (2). Once laser was added to the acupuncture treatments Rosie’s owner reported that the effects of the sessions lasted much longer and she was no longer using Rimadyl. In conclusion, acupuncture and laser therapy greatly enhanced her quality of life, as it was a last resort to try and manage the pain from her OA and chronic IVDD. Her owner were very pleased with her progress and results during the time of treatment.  Rosie has not returned for any additional sessions, so her current state is unknown.


  1. Schoen, Allen M. “Veterinary Acupuncture Research.”Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, 2001. 47-72. Print.
  2. Millis, Darryl L., and David Levine. “Laser Therapy in Canine Rehabilitation.”Canine Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 365-69. Print.