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Splint A Broken Toe- 15 Weeks Later, Sores And A Limp


Guest greykat

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Guest greykat

So today was supposed to be a great day. My 10 yr old grey, Max, was supposed to finally be freed of his splint.

 

In mid-April, Max was running back to me from the back of the yard and suddenly pulled up his back paw and started crying and hopping. He was dripping blood and wouldn't even let me take a look, so off to the vet we went. We were sent to the e-vet since surgery was required.

 

Max had a laceration between two toes. When the e-vet laid him down, he noticed swelling, so he took an x-ray. The fourth toe (outer toe) was fractured (at an angle). I got a call after the surgery and was informed of the x-ray and fracture, and I was told I could either get a bone splate (another surgery- why he didn't call BEFORE surgery is beyond me!) or, since Max isn't a racing dog anymore, we could just do a splint for 6-8 weeks. I didn't want another surgery unless necessary, and he made the splint option sound good.

 

Max had the splint changed at my regular vet each week, stitches removed after two weeks, and by four weeks, we did our first x-ray. The healing was non-existent. So the vet decided to leave the new splint in place w/out changing it (less manipulation and messing w/it should avoid rebreaking it). We had check-ups every two weeks and x-rays every four weeks. Every four months, the x-rays would show enough progress to keep going. The vet said the splint should stay put unless it got wet or we noticed it started smelling. Neither happened. Finally, today, 15 weeks after the incident, we had an x-ray and it showed great healing. The vet said we definitely needed to change the splint/wrap and he thought we'd probably just leave it off and continue to restrict activity for another week.

 

Once the wrap was removed, we saw a big pressure sore and pad irritation. The vet didn't seem to worried. He gave me dermacleanse and told me to apply it twice a day. He said if in a couple days the sore seems to be oozing, we will start antibiotics. I haven't seen oozing, but it looks painful. The vet actually sounded most worried about limping. Max initially was walking funny, and the vet said that was because he is so used to having the splint. The vet said if we see him limping, that that would be a bad sign (re-fractured the bone).

 

SOOOOO. I get him home and try to get him settled and calmed down. He sleeps for awhile, but each time he gets up for a drink, he does what I consider limping. He doesn't completely take weight off the foot, but he certainly favors it. But is it the sores or the strangeness, or is the bone not healed yet??

 

Then I try googling it and find a huge forum of people talking about dogs and broken toes and how you should NOT splint if the toe is not weight bearing. People talked about horrible sores, infections, even death from "dead legs" and such. I realize I shouldn't rely on miscellaneous posts on a random site, but man did it make me feel nervous and stupid. I've spent tons of money and put Max through tons of anxiety, not to mention I've been sleeping downstairs with him in our living room for four months. I've kept him from all activity. Ugh- it's been awful, and now I worry it was all for nothing.

 

Help- what are your "grey" experiences? I am definitely calling the vet to request antibiotics even w/out seeing "oozing". I just worry about the ugliness of the sore and these decaying pads that seem to be falling off.

 

Max was licking at it a lot and not responding to me trying to stop him (may need to run out for a cone/collar). But he also is sleeping well, not crying when he walks (just the limping), he was excited to see my husband when he got home, was SO excited for dinner. Is acting normal in all other respects.

 

What to do? Have you had splint experience? It's really too late for me to do anything now, but I'd still like to know. Funny- I question my vet on internal stuff, but a bone I figure is the same for any type of dog and that the vet would know best...

 

Sorry for the long post! Wanted to give you the whole story. :)

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Guest trevdog

Never splint a broken toe....doesn't heal properly and you will get the pressure sores and such....just like you wouldn't splint a toe on a human...let it heal on it's own it's probably not going to heal straight anyhow. Been there done that on 2 differnt greys, more trouble than anything and made the pups miserable.

 

Edited to add it's probably going to take a while for the sores to heal and if he had problems with his pads he will be limping.

Edited by trevdog
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Guest greykat

That's what I was afraid of. :( Unfortunately, it's too late for us now. We spent 15 weeks of frustration, and now the splint is finally off. Oh, his poor foot. I wish I had known earlier. I am so tuned into making sure the vet knows about grey bloodwork and anesthesia and all that "grey-specific" stuff. But a broken toe? I didn't even think to question the vets on this. :(

 

So hopefully antibiotics and derma-cleanse will help.

 

Another question: what do people think about dogs licking wounds? Some people say dogs' saliva has healing power and that this is what dogs do in the wild to heal wounds. Others say not to let dogs lick wounds because they could become infected. What is true? It certainly would be easier to allow it, but I always try to discourage it because I'm afraid of wounds getting worse.

 

Anyway, can I at least think it's a good sign that my dog is seemingly normal in other respects? I would hate to think something dark and horrible is lurking as a result of this long-term splint. :( I really hope it's just a matter of letting the sores heal and getting on w/ life... :hope

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Guest TheDoggfather

Uuuuuuh... Sequoia had a broken toe, splinted for 8 weeks and despite a couple of sores, healed up perfectly.

 

Anyway. Seeing as how this is an outside, non-weight bearing toe I don't think it'd be a bad thing if you decided to not splint it. Of course, I'm no vet and my experience is based solely on the fact that I deal with racers everyday who sometimes come up w/ broken toes. Rarely does a break necessitate surgery/splinting...if the toe is straight, leave it be. If it looks like it could heal at an awkward angle that would impede his quality of life, then I'd have it amputated.

 

As far as licking their wounds... if it's to a degree where he's obsessive about it, you gotta do something to divert his attention. If he's doing it to clean it, then I'd let him. As a friend once told me when she heard me over-reacting once, "They got along just fine for thousands of years w/o our help, a little wound licking ain't gonna hurt him."

Edited by TheDoggfather
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Guest Energy11

Hard call ... I have seen toes splinted, and not. I guess it is up to the vet, to make the call. I'd keep an eye on it, and go from there. Hopefully, now that the pressure of the splint is off, everything will heal. Good luck. We are pulling for you!

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Guest patti909

I think it may depend on the break. Lacie has had 5 breaks, 3 with dislocations and bone chips. the first 3 had splints, and she has had one amputation from a repeated break and half a toe amputated with a bone that completely broke off and splintered.

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Guest greymama002

Sorry that Max is going through this! As far as the licking, our Ruffie had a surgery, stitches, bandage etc, on his leg and when it finally came off, our vet said it was the most natural thing in the world for a dog to lick the area since it was under cover for so long. But he also said that if he kept at it and was making it raw then we would have to rewrap or put a sock on it. We kept an eye and Ruffie did a bit of licking but not excessive, so hopefully Max won't get carried away with it.

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Guest greykat

Thanks everyone. Well, the vet just called me back. I told him I was concerned about the pad issues, and he apologized and said he hadn't noticed them. I think the big sore on the side of the foot was all anyone would notice, but I have had the opportunity of seeing Max lying down, so I can see his whole foot very well. The pads look like the inside brown flaky part of a mushroom- almost spongy, but a major crusted pad coming off like a scab. I think the old pads are dead and new pads are trying to grow in, but no cells could actually come off for the past 10 weeks because they were not exposed to air. My theory. So I'm hoping it's no big deal.

 

At any rate, the vet wants me to bring him in tomorrow morning so he can see it. Frustrating since Max HATES going there and I have to put him through this AGAIN. Ugh. :( But it's nice of the vet since he isn't even supposed to work tomorrow and is coming in just to see Max.

 

I know for the future to maybe get a second opinion if this ever happens again. Funny how many people have dealt with broken toes. I had two other greys, and this is my first experience w/ a break of any kind. I've had plenty of other emergency vet visits, though. They love to keep us on OUR toes. ;)

 

Thanks, again. Wish us luck tomorrow morning! :P

 

 

 

 

Sorry that Max is going through this! As far as the licking, our Ruffie had a surgery, stitches, bandage etc, on his leg and when it finally came off, our vet said it was the most natural thing in the world for a dog to lick the area since it was under cover for so long. But he also said that if he kept at it and was making it raw then we would have to rewrap or put a sock on it. We kept an eye and Ruffie did a bit of licking but not excessive, so hopefully Max won't get carried away with it.

 

 

Max isn't licking at all right now. I think he may indeed have been trying to clean it. I'll keep an eye on it. The vet also mentioned using a sock. I thought about running out and getting one of those new soft/foam elizabethan collars, but I think he'd been even more annoyed w/ me. ;)

Edited by greykat
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Guest HutchKC

Our girl came off the track with a severely broken outside back toe (broken for quite some time). So severe that once the nail was trimmed back (possibly too far) a few months later, it grew into the adjacent toe, causing a painful abrasion. Being rookie greyhound owners, we tried to bandage until it grew out, which caused behavior issues and we lost her trust in touching her paws in general. Once the xray showed the severity of the break, the vet recommended amputation. Which we did. After recovery she returned to the sweet happy hound she initially was, though we still have some minor space issues.

 

FYI, amputation ran about $800. I have know idea what splinting costs, but due to the age of the break, that wasn't an option for us.

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15 weeks--really? Holy smokes--that's a long time to be in a splint--really lucky that you didn't have more complications. It is true that most vets will not splint outside toes as they are not weight bearing toes but, if it was a severe fracture they might just to make the dog more comfortable. The limping could be from bone loss in that limb from not using that leg properly for so long--tendons and muscles also get stiff and need to be used again, also, I'm sure the bottom of his foot is tender. I would start by doing slow short walks and see how he does with that. I second the use of a baby sock--he just needs to take his mind off of the sore until it heals.

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We've been there and done that and if I have a choice in the future I'm not ever splinting my dog again.

 

Dude broke a weight bearing toe on his right hind foot (never made a sound and I didn't know until I saw him dripping blood everywhere!). His toe was shattered and plating wasn't an option, so we amputated and a splint was applied to keep him off his foot.

 

He was supposed to keep the splint on for two weeks until a recheck. After about 9 days I started to think something was going on with his foot and splint and called the surgeon - I got a vet tech who told me to just leave the splint on and bring him in on schedule as it probably wasn't serious. Well, when my regular vet took the splint off he didn't even hesitate but said I needed to get Dude back to the surgeon asap.

 

Dude had several sores down to the bone from the splint rubbing and generalized skin infection all over his foot. The toe amputation was healed perfectly, but we had another six weeks of weekly bandage changes, trying to keep him quiet, tramadol and antibiotics and upset tummy. If I'd taken the splint off when I wanted I think we would have been much better off.

 

Lesson learned? I'm going to trust my instincts from now on a bit more!

 

Sounds like you're going through some of the same - Dude lost most of his old pad surface too, but they grew back just fine. Some Bag Balm helped once the area wasn't raw an open.

 

Get some small baby socks to keep his foot dry and clean - some vet wrap will help keep it on. I let Dude lick until he got obsessed with it, then he got a sock and some vet wrap all over. He also had to wear his muzzle when we weren't home with some duct tape covering the bottom part so he couldn't lick through the bars!

 

Good luck!

greysmom :D

Chris - Mom to: Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom, Lilly

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Guest sja5032
FYI, amputation ran about $800. I have know idea what splinting costs, but due to the age of the break, that wasn't an option for us.

 

 

That is A LOT for a toe amp, just my opinion, I'm not sure what we pay because I don't get the bills, my boss does, but its definitely not that much.

 

Toes are hard to deal with its a luck of the draw kind of thing, sometimes they heal fine, other times you spend 4 weeks with a splint and then need to amp because nothing is happening.

 

I would question the vet that splinted the dogs foot for 15 weeks and didn't do anything to help with the pressure sores, they have probably been there for the majority of the time just as painful but no one saw them so no one knew.

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Guest greykat

Well, to be fair, the break is actually high on the toe (maybe more like what would be a wrist on a human), and it was at an awkward angle. It may have needed a splint in order to heal properly (since I do know broken bones that don't heal well can cause lameness or arthritis issues, etc.). So if it did indeed warrant a splint, that's okay. My gut did tell me it was a problem to not check it more often, but the vet's argument was that the re-wrapping each time in the beginning was causing it to not heal (our first x-ray at 4 weeks showed no signs of healing, but all subsequent x-rays after we had stopped changing the wrap showed progress each time). Since Max was walking just fine with it on and it didn't "smell" and hadn't gotten wet (I LOVE PAWZ...rubber disposable boots that are AWESOME for this type of injury), the vet thought it was in Max's best interest to not mess with it. I realize the sores look bad to me, but they don't look "old" (and there really is no odor...smells mostly like the other foot), my husband actually thinks they probably formed more recently since there may have been an increase in movement/rubbing (Max has acted increasingly interested in getting active- dancing for his dinner, trying to run while on lead, jumping on the couch- over the past few weeks).

 

The other thing that does give me comfort about the length of time we've put up with this is that we saw the proof in the x-rays. Even with keeping the toe from moving, the fracture was SO slow in healing. So I suppose it would have been much worse had we not kept the leg in a splint (it was an elbow-type splint- not on his whole leg or anything). I don't know- that's what my husband thinks, and I guess in order to stay sane (since we are talking about the past at this point), I should try to think that too.

 

I'll try to see if I can post pictures on here so I can show you what these sores and the pads look like.

 

Thanks for all the empathy! :)

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Guest greykat
Sounds like it was a Metacarpal bone (front limb?)--yes, they need to be splinted :)

 

I looked in my racing greyhound book, and it looks like (from what I remember on the x-ray) that it may be the lower end of the metacarpal as opposed to the phalanges. It is the outer most one (#5?) of his rear right leg.

 

I took him to the vet this morning, and the vet said it looked fine to him (actually much better than yesterday when the splint was removed). He said the swelling had gone down a lot on the main sore, and he said the pads are just trying to push out the dead cells as I'd suspected. I asked about getting antibiotics just to be safe, but he really felt confident that there is no sign of any infection. So I took Max home. THe vet said to use pain meds since Max is still probably limping because it hurts to start using all of those muscles and tendons again after 15 weeks of not using them. He said if he's still limping by Friday that we should do another x-ray to see if it's re-fractured. He said we could try a cast if it had broken again.

 

I'm not keen on doing a cast. I'm so ready for all of this agony to be over with. I'm of course not enjoying the time and money and sleeping downstairs, but I don't really care about all of that. I REALLY hate taking Max to the vet all the time and stressing him so much and taking him on short bathroom breaks...stopping him from playing, having him cooped up in one room. It sucks! While he loves his food and petting and chewsticks and all, I'm sure he isn't thinking his quality of life is all that great right now. Poor guy!!

 

So what to do. I'm applying derma-cleanse and limiting his movement and crossing my fingers for now. I PRAY that this limp stops by Friday because I really don't want to drag him back for an x-ray. If he managed to re-fracture so quickly, will he ever really heal? If 15 weeks (10 unchanged) in a splint didn't 100% heal it, what will? I don't want more sores and discomfort, but I don't want him in pain from a broken bone.

 

:( I feel really sad. He's helping, though. I just looked over, and he's got his head smooshed into his fluffy pillow and looks like he's sleeping on a cloud. He really doesn't seem to be too upset or having trouble sleeping or anything- just this light limp and some licking his wound. When we had the first bandage/splint change many weeks back, the other vet did it and did a bad job. It was on a Saturday, and Max was really upset and limping or not even using his foot, wouldn't settle on his bed for more than a few minutes, was panting, crying, oh- it was awful! My husband undid the bandage and redid it himself to get Max through the weekend, and I took him back to the other vet (two guys in the practice) that Monday morning and he did a much better job. So I remember what Max looks like when he's clearly in pain/discomfort, and this isn't the look I'm getting right now AT ALL. So I'm hoping that's a good sign.

 

Blah. I just want my little angel to be happy and healthy and COMFORTABLE. Gonna go get me some Oreos and milk and watch my boy sleep. :)

 

Thanks!!

Kat

Edited by greykat
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Guest Energy11

All I can say, is RELAX, REST, and let's HOPE this all clears up SOON! Enjoy the Oreos! They can cure a meriad of things :-))

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Guest greykat
All I can say, is RELAX, REST, and let's HOPE this all clears up SOON! Enjoy the Oreos! They can cure a meriad of things :-))

 

Thanks! And isn't that the truth! I'm on an Oreo kick lately...luckily I have an exercise class on Friday to help me work them off... :)

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It does sound like an injury that had to be splinted.

 

It is really really really hard to get a broken bone to heal without some type of immobilization. The break you describe probably was better treated with the splint than with, say, a plate and screws. In the short term, a splint often does generate some sores. Ow. But they will heal.

 

Don't worry too much over that leg yet. One of my dogs took 3 weeks -- not kidding here -- to resume full use of a leg that had been bandaged a few weeks for a fairly simple laceration. There was nothing wrong with the leg. She'd gotten out of the habit of using it fully, and it felt funny once the bandage was off.

 

Sending best wishes.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Guest GreysAndMoreGreys

A limp after having a leg wrapped for 15 weeks is TOTALLY normal. I wouldn't worry to much if by Friday if he is still limping, heck I would expect him to continue to limp for about a month or so.

 

I've seen broken legs out of a wrap in less then 15 weeks. That is a super long time for a toe fracture.

 

Now I'm not a vet and do not try to pretend that I am one. But I would start allowing him more free movement. The only way things are going to get better is if he starts using it more. Sure I wouldn't allow him free access to a fenced in back yard of large size but allowing to go about the home and short turn outs in smaller areas will be good for him. Of course jumping or stairs would not be a good idea either at this point.

They need to start using the leg in order to stretch out those muscles/ligaments/tendons.

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Jamey broke an outside toe on a hind foot and all the vet did was wrap it up for a little while, to stabilize it just a bit. Jamey was fine, and he had no remaining problems with the toe. It healed at an angle that is a bit higher than normal, but it does not bother Jamey.

 

Hopefully Max's toe will be better soon!

Tin and Michael and Lucas, Picasso, Hero, Oasis, Galina, Neizan, Enzo, Salvo and Noor the Galgos.
Remembering Bridge Angel Greyhounds: Tosca, Jamey, Master, Diego, and Ambi; plus Angel Galgos Jules, Marco and Baltasar.

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When Buck broke his toe (a middle one) my vet said he did not splint broken toes. He'd seen far more too many complications from splinting, including those from where the splint caused pressure further on up the leg with bad results. We wrapped it at first and Buck gimped around for about six weeks or so then he was fine.

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Guest greykat

Good news! We saw the vet yesterday, and he said he didn't want to see Max for another year! ;) Everything looks good, the sore is healing, Max is hardly limping (I like to say "favoring"), and he acts like he's ready to tear up the town. We are now allowing him to do a few stairs (and he's loving it- keeps going up and down, like he's been missing it), and while my husband carried him up to our bedroom last night (tall flight of steps), I slowly walked him down them this morning.

 

And you know what that means? Yes- I FINALLY slept in my own bed for the first time in 4 months!! :)

 

All's well that ends well! My boy is coming back!! :)

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