Q: I am looking to adopt an 8-12 week old puppy who has ligament problems with her front paw and leg. I was wondering if massage would help her?
Answer by Lola Michelin, Northwest School of Animal Massage:
Of course, a massage practitioner would need a full description of the condition, preferably from a veterinarian and would talk to you about what you have been doing to manage the situation prior to providing massage.
It would be advisable to use a professional massage practitioner, at least initially, rather than trying to do the massage work yourself. There are specialized techniques that might be useful in this case and some types of massage might actually be harmful or contraindicated. A trained specialist will not only be able to provide the best possible options but can also train you in some basic techniques you do for your animal between visits. In many cases, ligaments can benefit from massage and of course, massage can be used to ensure that compensating muscles and joints aren’t taking too much load on as a result.
At the Northwest School of Animal Massage, we teach a method called Manual Ligament Therapy that specifically works on the ligaments and is quite successful in addressing conditions affecting the ligaments. Many young animals do have developmental issues for the ligaments that might respond well to massage. However, if there is trauma, proper veterinary care should be explored first. Some ligaments take longer to develop the type of tensile strength they will require in adulthood to support and protect the joint. Massage can help to ensure that good circulation is present around the area and to help improve neural training and flexibility.
Stretching should be avoided at this stage as a ligament should not be overstretched. Passive repetitive stretching is a mild form of stretching that might be useful. You may want to look for a therapist trained in the above mentioned techniques to help you.
Occasionally, some developmental issues do take care of themselves with the proper time and nutrition. If you have not discussed this with your veterinarian yet, you may wish to.
Best of luck!