Q: Recently, my four-year-old Dachshund has been feeling pain when I carry him. The vet prescribed pain killers and rest for two weeks, but his condition has worsened. Now, he can’t even get up on his own and has been dragging his hind legs on the floor. Can traditional Chinese medicine help him?

A: Dachshunds are indeed prone to a condition known as Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), which is a condition where the cushion discs between the vertebrae in the spinal column either bulge or herniate into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the nerves running through the spinal cord, causing pain, nerve damage and even paralysis. Common recommendations will include strict rest and the use of anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling of the cord and reduce pain. However, if the damage is too severe, such conservative treatment may not be enough and surgery may be required to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord. 

In traditional Chinese medicine, IVDD is due to qi and blood stagnation at the injured site of the spine. These animals are normally in pain, and their spines will be sensitive when touched. Their tongues may also appear purple, and they may exhibit signs of weakness and/or paralysis. Acupuncture can be used to stimulate the body’s energy and restore the flow of energy that was interrupted. It can also help to heal the damaged spinal cords and nerves, and provide significant pain relief. A combination of herbs, acupuncture, and moxibustion may be employed to improve your dog’s condition. Moxibustion is the burning of dried mugwort, and it can be done to warm the affected regions with the intention of stimulating circulation and inducing a smoother flow of blood and qi.