Pressure algometry measurement of canine muscular pain near the thoracolumbar junction: evaluation of a modified technique

Vet Anaesth Analg. 2016 Mar;43(2):227-34. doi: 10.1111/vaa.12308. Epub 2015 Sep 11.


Objective: To evaluate the utility of pressure algometry for measuring muscular pain in dogs by using a modified technique intended to prevent the development of a learned apprehension response.

Study design: Prospective randomized clinical trial.

Animals: Sixty-three client-owned dogs with a history of restricted comfort or mobility.

Method: Pressure algometry was used to measure the mechanical nociceptive threshold (MNT) in eight locations around the thoracolumbar junction. Dogs were assigned to one of two groups: group A dogs (n = 22) were placed on a restricted exercise program, while group B dogs (n = 25) were placed on a restricted exercise program and were administered combined acupuncture and manual therapy treatment (CAMT). After data collection in groups A and B was complete, animals were recruited for a third (control) group, C (n = 16), that had no exercise restriction or treatment. Algometry measurements were performed on four occasions over 28 days using a technique intended to prevent the dogs from developing a learned apprehension response. Measurements from eight locations were pooled and analyzed for changes over time.

Results: Increases in MNTs over time at all locations tested were identified in groups A and B. In group C there were no significant changes in MNT or evidence of a learned apprehension response.

Conclusion and clinical relevance: MNTs in dogs without exercise restriction or CAMT were consistently repeatable and unchanged over time, indicating that there was no learned apprehension response to pressure algometry using the modified technique. Therefore, the increasing MNT values with time in dogs administered exercise restriction with or without CAMT suggests improved muscular comfort of the thoracolumbar region. Although further research is needed, use of this modified technique should improve the utility of pressure algometry for measuring muscular pain in dogs.

Keywords: algometer; dogs; mechanical nociceptive threshold; pain; sports medicine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning
  • Dog Diseases*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Male
  • Myalgia / veterinary*
  • Pain Measurement / instrumentation
  • Pain Measurement / veterinary*
  • Pressure
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thoracic Vertebrae