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Soft Tissue Injury & Myofascial Disease

Soft tissue injury in dogs and cats includes a broad range of problems. These types of injury can occur in athletic animals and from compensating from a problem elsewhere in the musculoskeletal system. Commonly seen problems include:

Iliopsoas strains:The iliopsoas muscle is a hip flexing muscle that runs from the lumbar spine to the inner thigh. It is susceptible to injury in sport and agility dogs and when lower back pain or an altered gait is present. Muscle strains and trigger points (or sensitive areas in the muscle) can cause a significant lameness which often gets worse with increased activity. Treatment includes identifying any underlying problems, pain medications and physical rehabilitation therapy (PRT). PRT modalities may include low level laser therapy, deep tissue heating and stretching and therapeutic exercise. In the case of athletic dogs with iliopsoas strain, it is important to develop a plan to decrease the incidence of re-injury and maximize performance.

Biceps tendonitis:Inflammation of the biceps tendon and the surrounding joint capsule can cause a significant lameness of the forelimb. This is a common injury in active dogs. Dogs with this problem often have an intermittent lameness and are painful when the shoulder is extended and the biceps tendon is palpated. Arriving at a definitive diagnosis may require advanced imaging, such as an MRI or arthroscopy. This can be a frustrating condition as re-injury is common and restrictions in activity are required for treatment. Treatment includes medication and physical rehabilitation therapy. Sometimes, surgery may be required.

Myofascial pain and trigger points:To help understand this condition, it is important to define the parts of the body myofascial pain includes. "Myo" refers to muscles. "Fascia" is the fibrous connective tissue that surrounds muscles and allows them to glide over one another. Muscles can develop tight bands called trigger points. These trigger points are painful on palpation and can lead to movement disorders. Common areas are along the spine and muscles of the legs in dogs and cats. The fascia can also become restricted, leading to discomfort and decreased movement. Myofascial pain can be related to underuse, overuse, repetitive use, and compensation from surgical pain, osteoarthritits, and injury. The most effective treatment for myofascial disease and its pain is deep dry needling. Multimodal pain medication and active PRT is required to compliment needle based therapy and complete the patient's recovery. Low level laser therapy, massage and hands on therapy can improve discomfort. Therapeutic exercise, both land based and aquatic, can help maintain a more function, less painful state.

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