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Jimmy Cooke - A veterinary acupuncture success story

Posted in Operations @ Aug 27th 2015 - By Dr Ulrike Wurth, Executive Director, ACVA
Jimmy Cooke 1

Jimmy Cooke enjoyed dog training and agility trials until he became lame. Cortisone injections weren't helping so his owner decided to try acupuncture and the rest of the story is as they say, history!

Jimmy Cooke is a seven year old Labradoodle who had been a healthy dog since his owner Julie rescued him from the Lort Smith Animal Hospital some years ago.  Jimmy and Julie both enjoyed dog training and agility trials.  In December 2011, Jimmy became lame in the left foreleg, especially when he first got up after lying down.  He was still happy to do the agility trials, but was very lame and sore the next day.   Julie thought he would recover with rest over the two month Christmas break, however at the first agility trial for 2012, while he completed the course, he was very lame after resting.   Each morning he would get up, carry the leg for a few steps and then hobble a few more and then he seemed fine.  

The diagnosis

In March 2012 Jimmy saw his usual veterinarian, when X- Rays were taken, but did not show any bony changes or arthritic joints.  A diagnosis of Biceps tenosynovitis was made.  This is a common injury in agility dogs and is due to the repetitive strain injury of the tendon of the biceps brachii muscle. The tendon of the biceps brachii muscle is important in stabilizing the shoulder joint, and the muscle allows for the flexion of the elbow and extension of the shoulder.

The initial treatment

 Between March and August 2012, Jimmy was treated with a cortisone injection into the biceps tendon.  For the first week this stopped the limp, but then the lameness returned.   The cortisone injections were repeated every six weeks for a total of three injections.  After each injection there was an improvement for the first week but once he started running the lameness recurred.

After attending a seminar at the Geelong Obedience Dog Club in October 2012, which focused on the use of complementary therapies, Julie decided to try acupuncture for Jimmy.  She contacted Dr Ulrike Wurth a veterinarian and certified acupuncturist working at the Torquay Animal House Veterinary Clinic, one of the speakers at the seminar.  Jimmy was examined by Dr Ulrike Wurth and found to have a large number of muscle trigger points in the left foreleg and many other muscles of his body.

Muscle trigger points develop when a muscle is overstretched, a common injury for agility and other working dogs.  The muscles fibres in the centre of the muscle contract and form a painful point called a trigger point.  Unless these are treated specifically, the lameness persists because it is now painful to stretch the muscle to its normal length.  As the dog walks or trots the stride is noticeably shortened in the affected leg.   As time goes by, other muscles have to compensate for the injured muscle and then they too develop trigger points and the condition gradually worsens.  Anti-inflammatory drugs that normally relieve pain have little effect on these muscle trigger points.

Acupuncture treatment 

Dr Ulrike Wurth treated Jimmy weekly with acupuncture from late October to December and put him on a restricted exercise regime with several short walks on lead each day.  Julie, who was also a masseuse, was shown how to massage and stretch the affected muscles.  There was a gradual improvement with each treatment, but after treating a trigger point in the neck, the limp markedly improved and after one week, the limp had resolved.  During January, Jimmy was allowed short walks off lead and the treatments reduced to fortnightly.  At the end of March 2013, Jimmy had his first agility trial run for 13 months and there was no lameness. 

At the National Agility Championships in October 2013, Jimmy did 20 runs over 4 days and remained sound. 

How's Jimmy these days?

Today Jimmy loves a run on the beach and being a normal dog with his friend Loki, an English Pointer as well as competing in agility trials on a regular basis.   

Jimmy’s case illustrates that with the combined efforts of his veterinary acupuncturist and the dedication of his owner massaging and stretching the affected muscles, this treatment regime can reverse and manage a chronic lameness.   

Currently Jimmy has a check-up for trigger points every 8 weeks and usually one or two trigger points are found even though he is not lame.  These are treated and this is a good way to maintain muscle health in this active agility dog.

Veterinary acupuncture....

Veterinary Acupuncture is an expanding field with more veterinarians taking up an intense 18 month post graduate training program with weekly online lectures and three practical face to face hands on workshops throughout the course, to qualify for the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture.   This course is presented by the Australian College of Veterinary Acupuncture as the Trustee for the ACVA Foundation which is a non-profit organisation that was established to promote veterinary acupuncture education and research within Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The mission of the College is to educate veterinarians in the clinical application of acupuncture using scientific and traditional acupuncture theories and to promote veterinary acupuncture research.

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About Ulrike

Dr Ulrike Wurth B.V.Sc., Dip Acup, CVA (IVAS) graduated from Melbourne University in 1972, she started her own practice in Highton Geelong in 1979.  In July 2010 she sold the practice and currently works part time treating patients with acupuncture and Chinese Herbs.

Ulrike’s first exposure to acupuncture was in 1982 for a cat with a paralysed bladder and amazed by the result, she commenced a part time human acupuncture course in 1984, graduating with a Diploma of (Human) Acupuncture in 1986.   In 1991 together with Drs Chris Robinson, Carl Muller and Ian Robertson, she helped organised the first Australian IVAS Course and has continued to lecture at each subsequent course.

Ulrike is currently the Executive Director of Australian College of Veterinary Acupuncture Ltd, a not for profit company that aims to teach acupuncture to veterinary graduates, provide continuing education for IVAS graduates and promote much needed veterinary acupuncture research. She is also passionate about increasing the awareness of other veterinarians and the public of the benefits of acupuncture



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