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5. IVDD with Grades 1 to 3 may be successfully treated with TCVM alone.2-8
A 2010 study evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture in comparison to decompressive surgery, and a combination of both surgery and acupuncture, in forty dogs that had long standing clinical signs of IVDD
(>48 hours). The dogs were re-graded six months after onset of clinical signs, and were considered a success
if they returned to ambulation (i.e. they decreased from grade 4/5 to grades 1/2). This research demonstrated that electro-acupuncture had a greater success (79%
or 15/19 dogs) than did decompressive surgery alone (40% or 4/10 dogs). Dogs that had both decompressive surgery and electro-acupuncture had an intermediate response (72% or 8/11).2 This study indicates that the duration of clinical signs prior to treatment appears be an important factor in determining if decompressive surgery will benefit the patient. Therefore if the clinical signs of IVDD have persisted for over 48 hours, and the animal
is a grade 5 for a prolonged amount of time, electro- acupuncture is the treatment that shows the most benefit to these patients. In addition, if the client is unable
to afford surgery, TCVM may be the only potentially effective treatment option.2
Intervertebral disc disease is commonly seen in small animal clinics. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), including acupuncture, food therapy and herbal medicine, can be an effective singular therapy, or part of integrated therapy with Western medicine and surgery, based on a grading scale of clinical signs and type of IVDD.
1. Huisheng Xie. Chinese Veterinary Herbal Handbook (2nd edition). Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine. 2008: page 6.
2. Joaquim JG et al: Comparison of decompression surgery. Electroacupuncture, and decompressive surgery followed by electroacupuncture for the treatment
of dogs with intervetebral disc disease with long-standing neurologic deficits. JAVMA 236, 1225 - 1229 June 1, 2010.
3. Hayashi AM, Matera JM, Fonseca Pinto AC. Evaluation of electroacupuncture treatment for thoracolumbar intervertebral disc disease in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007; 231:913-918.
4. Hayashi AM, Matera JM, da Silva TS, Pinto AC, Cortopassi SR. Electro- acupuncture and Chinese herbs for treatment of cervical intervertebral disc disease in a dog. J Vet Sci 2007; 8:95-98.
5. Janssens LA, Rogers PA. Acupuncture versus surgery in canine thoracolumbar disc disease. Vet Rec 1989; 124:283.
6. Janssens LA. Acupuncture for the treatment of thoracolumbar and cervical disc disease in the dog. Probl Vet Med 1992; 4:107-116.
7. Lai A, Chow DH, Siu WS, Holmes AD, Tang FH, Leung MC. Effects of electroacupuncture on a degenerated intervertebral disc using an in-vivo rat-tail model. Proc Inst Mech Eng [H] 2008; 222:241-248.
8. Lubbe AM. Auriculotherapy in canine thoracolumbar disc disease. J S Afr Vet Assoc 1990; 61:187.
9. Björn Meij. Cervical and Thoracolumbar Disc Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment. The proceedings of 30th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), May 11-14, 2005, Mexico City, Mexico.
10. Outi M Laitinen and David A Puerto. Surgical Decompression in Dogs with Thoracolumbar Intervertebral Disc Disease and Loss of Deep Pain Perception: A Retrospective Study of 46 Cases. Acta Vet Scand. 2005; 46(2): 79–85.
11. Millis, Daryl, David Levine. Canine Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, 2nd Edition. Saunders, 2014. VitalBook file.
Table 1. Neurological grading scale in canine intervertebral disc disease

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