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Need Advice Re: Possible Disc Compression In Neck


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We have an almost 9 year old sweet little brindle female. She's always been the shy one. We have always known that walks are not her favorite thing, although she jumped for joy at the sound of the collars and leash. Recently, about 3-4 weeks ago, we noticed she became slower than normal,really not wanting to walk. Then she would not walk except out to the yard to pee/poop. She became anorexic as well. This all happened within a week. Alarmed, we brought her to the vet. All bloodwork and urinalysis are normal. Plain films show a possible disc space narrowing of the upper thoracic vertebrae. She was very tender all along her spine, according to the vet. She was put on Gabapentin 100 mg 3x/day and Robaxin 500 mg 3x/day. The symptoms we read about were consistent with what we saw: her head is bowed, she is unable/unwilling to lift it, stilted walking (she was walking as if she were walking on broken glass). The pain was incredible: she would whimper and cry all night long. We added Tramadol to the regimen and she is currently on 100 mg 4 times/day. Meanwhile, an ultrasound revealed a duodonal ulcer. She was placed on Carafate, Prilosec and Flagyl for that.

 

It has been a roller coaster. Sometimes we think we are making headway: she was able to walk around the block, albeit slowly and she started to eat (we switched to chicken and rice). We found a good regimen of a Gabapentin, Robaxin and two Tramadol (50 mg ea) which would allow her to sleep all through the night. A few days ago, about 3-4 days after we bumped up her Gabapentin dose to 4x/day, she began to show signs of ataxia: she's wobbly, walking into walls and nearly falling upon our other greyhound. She also appears to have difficulty laying/sitting down. Last night she stood on top of her bed for over 2 hours. I was unsure if this was ataxia, pain or anxiety because of the medications' effects. The e-vet's office on the phone thought it represented pain.

 

So: I have a few questions:

 

1. Does the ataxia ever resolve once the dog becomes tolerant to the Gabapentin?

2. If we are dealing with a herniated disc, can the pain be managed pharamacologically so that she can have a fairly good quality of life? We'd like to see her able to walk and eat without pain. We realize that the playing days are now over.

3. How long should we wait before taking her to the neurologist? I suspect they will ask for an MRI or myelogram, which will require sedation. I have been told that healing can occur, but takes a very very long time. It is heartbreaking seeing her like this: either she is asleep (which looks very peaceful) or she is awake, panting, drooling in what appears to be pain or anxiety.

 

Thanks for your input...sorry it is so long.

 

 

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Is accupuncture a possiblilty? I had two dogs with disc pain in the neck and they were helped this therapy. I just hope your girl feels better soon.

Irene Ullmann w/Flying Odin in Lower Delaware
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Regarding the ataxia-yes, once the body adjusts to the gabapentin it should resolve. Personally, I would have already had her at the neurologist. I do believe they are going to suggest an MRI. If this is a surgical fix she needs to be seen sooner rather than later. I would restrict activity to a minimum (no walks) and only use a harness until she's seen by the neuro.

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Take her to a neurologist. I used Dr. Jason King in Charleston. He operated on my hound and everything turned out great. He is on top of pain management and I have used him for both of my hounds. Both had disk surgery. Her's was near her neck and his was down near his tail.

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We took her to the neurologist for evaluation yesterday afternoon. They took one look at her and kept her there overnight for pain management and IV Morphine. An MRI was done today and shows that it is NOT a disc. It's a myelitis: inflammation of the cord itself. They took a CSF sample to rule out meningitis. If it is not meningitis and just a myelitis, the neurologist says it is usually due to the dogs own immune system. Sounds like she will need to be on steroids. Does anyone have experience with this? I googled it: says long term prognosis is guarded (translate: not very good). But the neurologist is considerably more upbeat: he thinks it is not bad. Either she can be weaned off steroid completely or put on a maintenance low dose. If she doesn't respond to steroids, they can try chemotherapy. I'd like to hear what your experiences are with this.

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I'm so glad you saw the neuro. Please stay away from Dr Google and listen to your vet. Don't get ahead of yourself-wait until all the tests come back. Steroids are tough on our hounds but, if you can get her down to a low maintenance dose you will find it manageable. The word chemo scares the heck out of a lot of people but, it doesn't need too be bad--the doses dogs receive are way under what you and I would need to find remission. Technically, prednisone given in higher doses is considered chemotherapy. So, wait for the results and I'm sure your neuro vet will develop a feasible treatment plan. Glad her pain is being controlled tonight---please keep us posted :-)

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