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Inexplicable Lameness--Input Needed!


Guest cwholsin
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Guest cwholsin

Hermes has been having foot issues for months now.

 

It started as what seemed to be a soft tissue injury that he came home from the dog park with. One particular toe swelled and wasn't going down on its own so we went to the vet. Got x-rays to make sure there wasn't a break (there wasn't) and took Herm home with rimadyl for inflammation. A week and a half later, his knuckle was still enlarged and was painful if he got too active on it. Spoke with the vet, who offered another xray at no charge to see if we missed something the first time (everything still looked fine) and got another week of rimadyl. Throughout all of is we've tried to keep Hermes as quiet as possible to give him a chance to heal.

 

After his second course of rimadyl, we just weren't seeing much progress. Hermes was able to walk without showing much discomfort, but faster than that causes a limp and walking on rough surfaces causes a limp at a walk. Back to the vet, this time we tried a course of antibiotics in case it was a low-grade infection that wasn't resolving. The puffiness in his knuckle actually did get better with the antibiotics and walks were better. We still were having limping on rough surfaces.

 

He seemed to be doing better, but returning to normal exercise causes Hermes to be reluctant for days afterwards, like his foot was still hurting him. Still reluctant on walks, but his knuckle didn't swell after activity anymore. It's still bigger than the respective knuckle, but that could be due to damage/scar tissue around the joint ( he dislocated or sprained the same toe last year, but returned to normal afterwards).

 

The next step for Hermes would be exploratory surgery or seeing a specialist. Do any of you fine folks have experience with a toe issue like this with chronic lameness with no apparent ortho cause? Xrays were totally normal, he's had no fever, or any other signs except a swollen knuckle. Hermes initially injured himself in the beginnning of may, so it's been several months of lingering intermitant lameness from the same toe/paw.

 

Any and all input would be welcome! I would like to avoid unnecessary surgery, but I'm afraid we won't have much of a choice if this doesn't get better somehow. He used to love walkies and would happily trot along for a mile or so, and now he lags behind and frequently doesn't even want to trot. And his limp is exacerbated on rough surfaces, like gravel or rough pavement.

 

We haven't seen any evidence of corns on that foot, either.

 

Thank you in advance!!!

 

Edited to add about corns

Edited by cwholsin
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Guest OPointyDog

That is rather perplexing! Do you have a vet in your area that specializes in physical therapy and recovery from injury, by any chance? Maybe an evaluation by a specialist would help pinpoint what the issue is and help you plan a course of treatment with your regular vet.

 

When we were working on the lameness in our dog (though we knew the initial cause) the orthopedist we saw surprised me at one point by saying basically in terms of orthopedic surgery, there was nothing else he could do for her, and we should seek out a physical therapist. He knew her bones were sound (other than some arthritis) and said she was ready for pretty much any activity. Fast forward two weeks, and the physical therapist evaluated her and put her on restricted activity because she was focused much more on healing the muscle strains and rebuilding muscle mass. We now have a recovery plan that we're working through. The orthopedist knew about these issues, but wasn't focused on them because it wasn't something he felt he could fix.

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Guest madredhare

My foster dog developed a problem with a toe and lameness as well. I noticed her not wanting to put weight on her right rear leg and the knuckle was enlarged. At first it seemed that she had an infection in the toe from a previous injury. After the anti-biotics were done, the swelling and lameness came back. I can't remember all the particulars, but they wound up removing the toe. Turned out she had a cyst in there that had ruptured. She is much better now and doesn't miss that toe at all!

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Guest LindsaySF

Probably not what you want to hear, but my boy Rogan hurt his toe in the yard and we ended up amputating it. There were no signs of a break on x-ray, but I'm guessing he injured the ligament or something and that led to issues with the toe. It was swollen since the injury, and over time started dislocating too. In Rogan's case he was still limping and favoring that leg after 3 months, and x-rays showed recent arthritis, which is why we amputated. If the toe hadn't been bothering him so much I would have just left it.

 

Sophie on the other hand had a toe injury before she came to me, one of her front feet. I got the vet records from her first owners and she injured it running around at the dog park, x-rays were fine. That toe was swollen when she came to me, but never bothered her. She re-injured it running in my yard, limping slightly, more swollen. Vet checked it, gave Rimadyl, she was fine. The swelling is still there, probably always will be (scar tissue), but she never limped on it again and it's not painful to the touch, so we don't worry about it. It hasn't been a problem for years.

 

If Hermes is still favoring his foot/leg after all this time then I would think you might want to remove the toe. Is there any fluid or anything in the swollen area that the vet can draw up and culture in case it's an infection? Maybe the past antibiotics weren't the right type. I know another Greyhound owner that ended up amputating a toe that was painful and swollen after several months and several rounds of antibiotics. They sent it off to the lab and the results were "plant material" in the joint which had caused an infection.

 

All of that said, I agree with the above post about a physical therapy consultation. It can't hurt! Andy came to me as a foster that was limping severely, and an orthopedic vet diagnosed "spinal pain". X-rays were fine so she recommended a physical therapy consult as "muscles aren't her thing". ( :lol) The PT identified torn groin muscles that were mimicking spinal issues (as they are high up in there, near the spinal muscles). Andy still limps, but he's miles from where he was, PT made a big difference. If a PT can't identify any muscular issues that need attention, it very well may be that toe.

 

 

 

~Lindsay~

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May have a foreign body (splinter etc). I'm sure your vet explained to you that many objects will not show up on an x-ray (glass). After this length of time I personally, would opt for the explore.

Have you been soaking the foot??

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Guest cwholsin

We haven't been soaking the foot, and when we first took him in, there was no evidence of broken skin to indicate a foreign body. It's absolutely possible that it could be. For those of you who have had these procedures done- what's the price tag of surgery or amputation or physical therapy?

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Has a full leg x-ray been done? Has a greyhound savvy vet checked for corns? Has he been on strict leash-walking?

 

Last year Larry had a problem with a fractured toe that took weeks to heal (about 2 months).

 

Probably not necessary but, I suggest getting more x-rays (whole leg also) and sending it to OSU for a consult.

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Guest KennelMom

It's probably just a build up of scar tissue and the loss of flexibility of the joint is causing him some pain - esp since it's exacerbated by walking on hard surfaces. We ended up amputating one of Melody's toes that was severely injured while lure coursing...it looked permanently swollen, but it was just scar tissue/arthritis. When her quality of life was impacted (ie, she couldn't go for walks), we took the toe off. Took maybe about a year and a half from injury to amputation. No problems since then. Our boy Primo has some atrocious looking feet - several toes on each foot show evidence of past disclocation/healing (they look swollen) but it doesn't cause him any issues and if he tweaks something the wrong way while running he always stops right away so hopefully no amputations in his future!

 

Amputation was a few hundred bucks, I think.

 

Racing greyhounds are incredible athletes but their feet may as well be made of glass. They're designed to operate best on the groomed surface of a track and pet life can wreck havoc on some of them!

Edited by KennelMom
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What's the longest he's been on total rest? My initial thought was an injury to the tendon/ligament (possible dislocation even that popped back in on its own) and it hasn't healed properly because he hasn't gotten enough rest.

 

Toe amputation when I got a quote for Neyla was much more costly here, although granted this was through a top of the line specialist in a place with a high cost of living, but that's who I would use - it was around $1200.

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest cwholsin

We've been doing our best to keep him resting, but unless he's feeling particularly bad he starts tearing around the house after about a week of minimal exercise. We try anyway, but it's hard to keep him from getting enthusiastic for long periods of time. He went without dog park-type exercise for a month and a half to two months. Would that be long enough? He got better up to a certain point (reluctant to trot on walks and limping only on rough hard surfaces) and we haven't seen any real improvement beyond that.

Edited by cwholsin
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Guest carolbeckerrizzo

Soaking in tepid water with Epsom salt would be a very good idea. 5 minutes or more several times a day is good.

Best wishes!

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Guest OPointyDog

Physical therapy hasn't been cheap, but it depends on what needs to be done. The vet we see does ONLY physical therapy - mostly on dogs and horses and specializes in sports medicine. The initial evaluation was $140 and lasted almost 2 hours (videotaping various gaits, treadmill, extensive physical exam, medical history, etc.). Each therapy session then costs about $50 for half an hour and $70 for 45 minutes. She gives discounts if you pay for multiple sessions in advance.

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Guest cwholsin

He just had a two week round of antibiotics and we haven't really seen much in the way of swelling since then. What kind of stuff could he get into that wouldn't show up on an xray? We'll give the salt bath a try- can't hurt!

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