Myofascial pain syndrome is always associated with a tight band of muscle fibers within the affected muscles. Trigger points are extremely tender spots within these fibers where the elements that cause contraction are fixed in the contracted state. This may occur secondary to injury but is more likely to be a result of the muscles being held in a chronic state of low grade contraction. Imagine holding your arms overhead for a long time. The constant contraction forces the muscle to use all the energy (ATP) so there is none leftover to “un-contract” the muscle. This same thing occurs your dog compensates to keep weight off an achey hip, for example. Your dog protects the painful bone or joint but trigger points eventually form in the muscle. These trigger points can be palpated by someone trained in identifying
them. Trigger points can be treated many ways but one of the best treatments is dry needling. Using an acupuncture needle, the trigger point is explored. When the trigger point is identified with the needle there will be an involuntary twitch. When the contraction is released, your dog experiences almost immediate relief. Treatment varies from pet to pet but usually lasts about 20 minutes and should be repeated weekly until your dog is more comfortable
Muscle pain is likely as common in dogs as in people. Unfortunately, once you or your dog has a trigger point, that area can be a source of problems weeks, months or even years later. The good news though is that treatment can be extremely effective in improving the quality of life of your dog!