Back pain in dogs and cats is a very common problem.

Many pets show no symptoms at all, whereas others become reluctant to jump onto furniture, into cars or even go as far on their walks. In extreme cases, dogs especially, will become less active or even yelp in pain during certain movements or when being touched (cats tend to be more stoic and sneaky about their pain).

Traditional veterinary medicine does not have many answers for back pain other than rest and medications for relaxing the muscles and controlling the pain and inflammation. Integrative medicine, on the other hand, has many tools for successfully treating, and in many cases curing, sore backs. As an integrative vet, I must admit that I get a bit excited when a client brings me an animal with a sore back. I enjoy treating these pets because I have a very good success rate using a combination of acupuncture, orthopedic manipulation and laser therapy. I often find that I don’t even need to use pain medications.

The first treatment that I use on a patient with a painful back is a very gentle spinal adjusting technique called VOM (Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation). Using low force spinal adjusting equipment, the nerves and muscles of the spine are reset out of the chronic spasm cycle. This procedure is extremely safe, well tolerated and very effective.

Depending on the degree of pain and the temperament of the animal, I may also layer acupuncture into the treatment. Acupuncture works by unblocking ”stuck” energy along energy channels called meridians. I typically use an injectable technique called “aquapuncture” whereby acupuncture points are injected with a very small gauge needle with vitamins and sterile saline. Like VOM, most animals tolerate this procedure well and I have yet to have any complications other than mild soreness lasting up to 24 hours.

I finish my back treatments with a low-level laser treatment. This type of laser treatment, also called cold laser therapy, improves the function of the cells in the body using light energy at specific wavelength and frequency.

I feel very grateful as an integrative veterinarian to have the tools that I do. Treating back pain with a combination of VOM, acupuncture and laser truly gets to the root issue by restoring vital circulation and nutrients to the stressed tissues and, in many cases, pets never need any pain medications and feel great!!