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Acu in Practice: Young Dogs with IVDD

Welcome to Acu in Practice!

Meet Thor, a 4- year old dachshund who came to visit for a recent presumed intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) episode. Thor was painful, crying, and not acting himself so his owners first brought him to the ER for evaluation. It was determined there, through physical exam and radiographs, that the most likely cause of Thor’s pain was IVDD. The radiographs showed mineralization in the discs associated with T10-13. These are the last 3 vertebrae of the thoracic spine located in a common area for dogs, especially long body dogs, to develop IVDD. Their own body weight pulls on this area and often times twisting or torque can add additional stress. Thor is a healthy guy. He has good body condition and a great disposition. Sure, he gets nervous sometimes, but he’s not overly anxious. There are no recognizable deficiencies that would explain his early onset of IVDD, or possible IVDD, which is why I chose to highlight him this week. His main problem is simply stagnation – maybe he was predisposed genetically, maybe his conformation (body type) is slightly off, maybe he jumped or fell at some point putting excess train on the area. We won’t know exactly why he developed the problem area, but the beauty of the TCM model is that we can still treat the patterns we see now to hopefully prevent another episode in the future. By the time Thor came to see me, his pain symptoms were gone and the main focus became releasing mild tension in the muscles/fascia (clearing Stagnation) to prevent flare up of the discs. He is probably one of the most tolerant Dachshunds I have ever treated. That’s not to say he was immediately at ease, but we took steps to make him comfortable and his treatment was a success!

TCM diagnosis:

Qi Stagnation, Phlegm (disc mineralization) – with Phlegm likely occurring due to chronic stagnation and inability of Blood/Body fluids to nourish the discs.

TCM treatment principle:

Move Qi and Blood in the affected Channels (improve circulation and release tension)

Resolve Phlegm (attempt to move mineralization out or at least prevent formation)

Acupuncture RX:

GV 14, BL 18, BL 20, BL 21, BL 23, Lumbar BH, ST 40 left, ST 36 right


GV 14 opens up the spine proximal to the Stagnation and calms the Spirit.

BL 18 – clear Stagnation proximal to the affected area, nourishes/move Liver Blood

BL 20, 21 – local to the Stagnation, BL 20 tonifies Spleen

BL 23 – clear Stagnation distal to the area, tonifies Kidney which helps prevent Bony Bi formation and provides to hind end/low back support

Lumbar BH – relieves pain in the spine, clears Stagnation distal to the area

ST 40 – resolves Phlegm

ST 36 – Moves and Tonifies Qi and Blood

I can’t wait to see Thor at his next visit in a couple of weeks – he’s been reducing the dose of NSAIDs prescribed by the ER and we’re planning on acupuncture and herbs taking it from here as long as there has been no return to pain!

This post is created by Nell Ostermeier, DVM, CVA, FAAVA and is intended for informational use, not to replace medical advice. You can check out daily updates and uplifts regarding pet care and people stuff on her social media sites - on FB and IG.


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