Tui Na Bodywork for Animals
Tui Na is a system of Physical Therapy that is one of four traditional methods of treatment within Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, the others being Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Food Therapy. Tui Na uses massage, acupressure, physiotherapy, and osseous manipulation techniques.
The aims of Physical Therapy include pain relief, improved mobility and faster return to function, thereby reducing the risk of permanent disability when recovering from injury or disease. Western techniques include thermal treatments, therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation, hydrotherapy, massage, and various passive range of motion and exercise techniques. It can be vastly underused in veterinary medicine, although there are now practitioners and clinics specialising in Physical Therapy for both small and large animals. Hydrotherapy particularly has grown very popular for rehabilitation after injury and in chronic musculoskeletal disease.
Tui Na uses massage, acupressure, stretching and passive range of motion techniques that are all based in Traditional Chinese Medical theory. Literally what it means in translation is ‘push-pull lift’. Tui Na can be helpful in strengthening the effects of acupuncture and other therapies, and is also effective as a sole therapy. One of the great advantages of Tui Na is that certain gentle techniques can be easily taught to owners to use regularly at home between acupuncture treatments.
Tui Na is particularly helpful in chronic joint disease to reduce pain and improve mobility. It is also helpful in paresis and paralysis cases, and to speed recovery after joint or spinal surgery. Some internal medical problems are also amenable to Tui Na techniques.
The techniques work by improving circulation to the affected area, which speeds healing and reduces pain. This can result in greater and more effective penetration of drugs, herbs and nutritional supplements such as Glucosamine/Chondroitin. Tui Na also works with connective tissues, and via the nervous system in a similar, though less potent way to acupuncture.
Tui Na can be useful in very tiny or young animals who may not be good candidates for acupuncture treatment, or when for other reasons acupuncture needling is not indicated. Animals that temperamentally may not accept needles will usually enjoy and benefit from Tui Na techniques.
I have trained in Tui Na with Dr Bruce Ferguson, who is an experienced TCVM practitioner and an instructor with the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine in the USA. I use a range of Tui Na techniques appropriate to each individual patient, including acupressure, massage, stretching and passive range of motion techniques. I am not a qualified Osteopath or Chiropractor and do not use osseous manipulation techniques.
I now use Tui Na in my practice both in conjunction with scheduled acupuncture treatments and to give animal owners useful exercises to carry out regularly at home. This can be particularly helpful because it relies on the strong bond between the owner and animal to help with the healing and rehabilitation process.