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Trigger Points (Knots)

These may form within the muscle due to fatigue, strain, trauma, over exercise or repetitive actions and will be painful for the dog and will hurt when pressed (as with humans). They will refer pain to other body parts because nerve endings from one muscle will send messages to the other muscles and pain will be felt; not at the site of the trigger (although some will be felt) but at the other muscle.


It is debilitating for the dog and the trigger point may be classified in two ways. They may be silent or active; silent resulting in weak referred pain and active resulting in strong severe pain.


The actual trigger point may occur for a number of reasons but it is as a result of increased toxicity to the muscle (lactic acid in particular). This occurs as a result of reduced circulation and oxygen and will bring with it irritation to the nerve ending. These trigger points are commonly associated with Myofascial pain syndrome.


Myofascial Pain Syndrome


This refers to the condition where by the animal experiences pain due to trigger points located within tense muscles. The pain will be referred to other muscles and there are two types of trigger point responsible for this; active and silent depending on the severity of the pain that is experienced by the dog.


This condition worsens with time and would generally be persistent; in that the dog will continue to experience pain if the trigger points remain for long periods. This condition occurs after the muscle has been put through repeated contraction (or over work). The referral pain will often be present in unrelated muscles to the one holding the trigger point; in some cases there may be multiple referral locations(spill over areas) from one trigger point.



  • Tenderness in the muscles affected
  • Reduced desire to move freely due to pain
  • Poor sleep pattern due to discomfort
  • Intolerance to being touched in affected areas
  • Depressed demeanour
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Vocalisation when moving
  • Irritability

Benefits of Massage

  • Eases tight muscles
  • Releases trigger points
  • Reduces pain
  • Increases range of movement
  • Reduces anxiety and nervousness associated with MPS
  • Encourages normal weight distribution