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Ruger Has Compressed Discs In His Back


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So, a couple weeks ago, Ruger started limping on his left hind leg. Trip to my vet and x-rays revealed 3 compressed discs mid-back (L3,4,5 if I'm remembering right). Started him on high dose of prenisolone (40 mg/2x day) and muscle relaxer (Robaxin 500mg) 3x/day. He showed improvement on the high dose, so we started weaning over the course of the 2nd week, to this point, where he is on only 20mg/day of the pred. He is right back to where he was at the onset on the low dose.

 

I just spoke to my vet today and we are going back up to 20mg 2x/daily on the pred, keeping up the Robaxin. He said it can take 3-4 weeks to get the inflammation under control. The next step after that, if the pred doesn't work, is a neurologist and a scan, then possibly surgery.

 

All that said, I have had accutonic treatments done before with Ru for what I supposed was arthritis, and he responded very well. I have several friends who have used accupuncture and chiropractic adjustment and are encouraging me to go that route, which I really do want to pursue. But I don't want to step on my vet's toes, and he proposed trying to get the inflammation under control first before going to the holistic approach.

 

I'm just trying to understand what to expect long term for Ru with something like this, and so I'm turning to GT's collective experience. And also, how long would you respect your conventional vet's request to wait on an holistic approach before overriding him?

 

Thanks, all!

Kate, with Nedra and Holly
Missing Greyhound Angels Mango, Takoda, Ruger, Delta, and Shiloh, kitty Angel Hoot, cat-tester extraordinaire, and Rocky, the stray cat who came to stay for a little while and then moved on.
Greyhounds Unlimited

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Guest BlueCrab

No real advice on the conventional vs holisitc approach, but we went thru a similar spinal situation with our German Shepherd a number of years ago. Otto had knuckled under on one rear foot for a while, which the vet *assumed* was a precursor for hip displaysia. He suddenly lost all use of his back end, which necessitated a quick response. We tried a series of anti-inflammatories but none worked so we went for an MRI which clearly showed - even to my untrained eye - collapsed disks which had degenerated to the point of pinching off the spinal cord. We had no choice but surgery. I would have liked to try something like accupunture, but the MRI didn't lie and like I said, if my untrained eye could see the compression, it wasn't going to get better. We moved fairly quickly to get back surgery done. It was painful for our boy and i kicked myself for about a week as he went thru a painful recovery. After that week, though, he walked normally and he ended up having another year as a whole new dog until we lost him suddenly and tragically to bloat.

 

I'd opt for the surgery again, probably, depending on the health of the dog, age, etc. I'd certainly consider a second opionion with a holisitc vet if you had any thought that it might help. Your vet should understand a request for second opinon in a situation like this. But if the x-rays are showing obvious compression, you'll need to ask the question about what long term will be - will something help it get better, or just alleviate some of the pain.

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My Larry get chiropractic treatments and I waited until he was stable before starting them. In his case, he had stopped limping and his toe fracture had healed.

 

When they do chiropractic adjustments, it will cause inflammation so it could exacerbate the issue.

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My 12-year-old has a bad disk at L5. Before we knew about the disk--when we just knew about his arthritis (which he also has)--we did a chiropractic adjustment. When she adjusted Sam's lower back, he screamed from the pain and came the closest he's ever come to biting someone. And--final straw--he was in just as much pain again in less than two weeks. For me--and I think for Sam--the short-term relief wasn't worth that scream. (It really was horrible. I didn't break down then, but I went home and cried at the memory. And I'm crying again now. Nothing has ever hurt my boy that badly.) And at his age--and with other problems, including respiratory issues--Sam is not a good surgical candidate.

 

We haven't had to do prednisone--that's our emergency reserve. At present, Sam gets 200mg to 300mg of gabapentin, two or three times a day; in warmer weather, it's just 200mg 2x daily. He gets 500mg Robaxin two or three times a day. He gets 50mg tramadol two or three times a day (vet says I can go to 100mg two or three times a day). He gets half a 7.5mg meloxicam every morning. (Pepcid first thing in the morning, breakfast and pills 30-40 minutes later.) This combo combats Sam's arthritis pain (which is higher up his back, at about the shoulder-blade level) as well as the disk problems.

 

Sam's walk is very stiff when he first gets up, but gets better once he's on his feet for a while. He gets very wobbly/shaky in his legs the longer he's on his feet, but that's more old age and bad legs, I think, than actual disk trouble. He eats everything I give him, does zoomies in my living room, still roaches on occasion, and is not at all drowsy or dopey from the meds. (He doesn't nap any more than the unmedicated 7-year-old does.) I don't let him climb stairs or get up on furniture; I get in the floor with him, and he's content with that. Usually, he sleeps on one of the dog beds in the living room; sometimes he moves to the hard, carpeted floor.

 

Sam had one acupuncture session years ago. We didn't see any major improvement, but at that point, he wasn't having major problems. The vets doing the acupuncture said that his pulse dropped during the session, as if he was relaxing when they relieved some pain, but there wasn't any improvement I could see then or later.

 

I tried a heating pad, but Sam wouldn't tolerate it. Sometimes, though, he'll lie on a bed in the sun:

 

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Kathy and Q (CRT Qadeer from Fuzzy's Cannon and CRT Bonnie) and
Jane (WW's Aunt Jane from Trent Lee and Aunt M); photos to come.

Missing Silver (5.19.2005-10.27.2016), Tigger (4.5.2007-3.18.2016),
darling Sam (5.10.2000-8.8.2013), Jacey-Kasey (5.19.2003-8.22.2011), and Oreo (1997-3.30.2006)

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My 12-year-old has a bad disk at L5. Before we knew about the disk--when we just knew about his arthritis (which he also has)--we did a chiropractic adjustment. When she adjusted Sam's lower back, he screamed from the pain and came the closest he's ever come to biting someone. And--final straw--he was in just as much pain again in less than two weeks. For me--and I think for Sam--the short-term relief wasn't worth that scream. (It really was horrible. I didn't break down then, but I went home and cried at the memory. And I'm crying again now. Nothing has ever hurt my boy that badly.) And at his age--and with other problems, including respiratory issues--Sam is not a good surgical candidate.

The same thing happened to me with Rex. I totally regret I put Rex through that more than once. My sweet boy had to be muzzled as he was lashing out. What did I know, the chiropracter was not only a DVM but an instructor at the Parker Chiropractic College. He told me it was perfectly normal for dogs to lash out and bite during adjustments. I finally decided even if it was normal, I wasn't putting Rex through that again. My vet had warned me away from chiro and suggested accupuncture as it had a beter clinical track record, but I did not listen. You should know that the guy that hurt Rex is based in Celina, not too far from you.

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Here in the UK Doc (eleven last month) came down with severe pain back in April and x-rays showed a compressed disk in his spine (L6? near the hip joints anyway) with some resultant arthritis. His right hip was also very painful due to associated neurological damage.

 

Our vet was hopeful that this would respond to pain management and physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. She put him on meloxidyl long-term and on tramadol hopefully short-term - the latter twice a day to begin with, now down to once, and at the beginning of October we're going to see if he can come off it altogether.

 

For the physiotherapy I found a nice woman who is qualified as both a human and an animal physio - she volunteers at our greyhound rescue so knows all about greyhound physiques! She does home visits - she massages and manipulates him and also uses a portable laser machine - as well as giving me little exercises to do with him daily in between. The hydrotherapy (water treadmill) is something my vet offers on-site, Doc is not enthusiastic about it but with lots of encouragement from me and the vet nurse he does co-operate!

 

Again we will review both therapies at the beginning of October and hopefully dispense with them. The best part of six months on both have clearly been really helpful for him, his gait and muscle tone have hugely improved and watching him trotting round the park this morning it is clear that he is once more a very happy and much more comfortable dog.

 

I did discuss the possibility of surgery with my vet back in April, should the therapies/ anti-inflammatories not have worked, but I'm afraid we both felt it wouldn't be fair on him, given his age and that he would have to be sent away to a specialist surgeon for the op and initial after-care. The greyhound rescue was in agreement with this too, saying that the important thing was to keep on top of the pain management and make sure he was comfortable - hopefully they'll be pleased to see how well he's done when we go to their autumn fair in a couple of weeks time :goodluck .

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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Thanks, everyone, for the advice. I have a better idea of what I'm looking at now, and also how to approach my vet about adding accupuncture to the treatment of this. With just one dose of the additional pred in him, I watch Ru get up last night and walk on all 4 feet across the room. He was stiff, granted, but he was putting weight on the left foot, which he hadn't done in 2 days.

 

Pam, thanks for the warning about the doc in Celina. A friend goes to Karen Ave down in Carrollton and that's where I'm planning to take him for accupuncture.

Kate, with Nedra and Holly
Missing Greyhound Angels Mango, Takoda, Ruger, Delta, and Shiloh, kitty Angel Hoot, cat-tester extraordinaire, and Rocky, the stray cat who came to stay for a little while and then moved on.
Greyhounds Unlimited

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