Acu in Practice: Weakness and Laryngeal Paralysis

Welcome to Acu in Practice! Meet Miles, a 14 ½ year old doodle who has been coming for acu and integrative care for a few years now. Miles comes routinely every month and he almost never misses a treatment because his owner notices the change in his comfort, hind end strength and mobility when he does. Also, Miles has a history of developing an aspiration pneumonia so each visit we are able to check in and make sure no respiratory signs develop. How is hind end weakness related to the aspiration pneumonia? (Note for pet owners – aspiration pneumonia occurs when a patient accidentally swallows some food or liquid “down the wrong pipe,” with that pipe being the trachea). In Western medical terms, Miles has muscle atrophy of the hind end and mild laryngeal paralysis. These 2 conditions are thought to be related in older dogs, both involving the nervous system, but we have yet to confirm exactly how with Western research. Using Traditional Chinese Medicine, we can classify both conditions as Wei Syndrome. Wei is a weakening or withering of tissues and energy in the body. Surgical correction of laryngeal paralysis in severe cases or medical management of symptoms more mild cases is how the condition is approached using conventional medicine. Meaning, there really is no treatment of the actual cause – weakening. With TCM, we can use acupuncture, herbs, food therapy and massage to treat the underlying weakness and improve wellness for the patient. The photo series below show’s Miles’ progression through his acupuncture treatment – Wide awake, a little droopy and drooly, then finally relaxed (almost 100% - Miles is a vigilant guy, he always has one eye open and on the lookout!) I’m very happy to report that Miles’ episodes of pneumonia were early on in his integrative journey and that we have had NO symptoms or episodes for well over a year. Miles continues to respond at each visit, keeping him on track for his best senior life!


For Miles, his TCM diagnoses are:

Wei syndrome

Kidney Yin and Qi Deficient Bi syndrome with Yin deficiency sings predominating.

Stagnation in the Channels of the Back, Hindlimb and Forelimbs.

Laryngeal paralysis also has a component of Stagnation.

Treatment principles:

Nourish Qi, Blood and Yin.

Strengthen the Kidney and Spleen.

Strengthen the Hind End

Move Stagnation (Tension, Tightness, Pain or lack of Movement)

Typcial Acu Point RX:

Without respiratory symptoms – GV 20, GV 14, KID 27, Lumbar BH, BL 20, BL 23, GV 4, BL 54, BL 40, ST 36 one side + SP 6 other side, KID 3 to Bladder 60, GB 21 and GB 41. If trigger points palpated, those are treated too.

With respiratory signs – add CV 22, LU 5 or 9, LI 4, BL 12 – BL 13 consider electrostimulation acu.

*Vitamin B12 aquapressure used for various points and to strengthen immune/neurologic systems.

*Food therapy toppings are fed daily – for Miles we focus on Blood building, Movement of Qi, Yin and Kidney tonics. Examples are lean Beef, liver, sardines, whole cooked egg, green beans, carrots, turmeric.

*Herbs – herbs vary depending on patterns seen at time of visit. Herbs are concentrated foods that act as medicines and general recommendations should not be made until the patient has been evaluated. For Miles, he has been on different herbs in different phases including Minor Bupleurum or Benefit Hips and Knees by Kan Herb, Spleen Support Formula, APR Nourishing formula by Kan Herb and Free the Sinews by Kan Herb.

*Western medications/diagnostics – Miles receives the lowest effective dose of NSAIDs to remain comfortable. He is on joint support supplements. He received antibiotics for episodes of aspiration pneumonia which was confirmed by radiographic study. He also completes routine lab screenings as needed – biannually or when a symptom changes and to monitor for signs of conventional kidney disease. Currently he only shows TCM kidney deficiency signs.







This post is created by Nell Ostermeier, DVM, CVA, FAAVA and is intended for informational use, not to replace medical advice. You can follow along here on the blog, visit people.and.pet on FB or IG for more pet care and vet care tips.

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