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Broken Leg Rehabilitation


Guest BrindleBoy
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Guest BrindleBoy

So, we adopted Stevie about 3 weeks ago (he is our 2nd GH, we lost our 1st a month ago, very suddenly, after only 5 years, to intestinal cancer.). We were told "he broke his leg but it was fixed very well in florida". Our rescue group was apparently not aware of the severity of the break, or even that he had a limp... He has a limp. The limp DOES vary... worse in the AM, gets better in the afternoon UNLESS I take him for a walk, then it gets worse again.... sometimes it gets better in a matter of hours (not days).

 

So- here's the story: broke his leg in his 6th race (in November), was going to be put down due to the complication of the break, but the GH rescue group president and the surgeon decided to save him. They did. He has 2 plates in his right front leg. He was fostered with restricted activity while he healed. In January he was "medically cleared". I have no idea what he's been doing between Jan and June, when we got him. Our group only had him for a couple of weeks before we adopted him, so I assume he was being fostered most of that time, until transferred north from Florida (he was rescued by a GH group in FL, who saved his life, then somewhere along the line, he was transferred to my GH group here in NJ).

 

We aren't concerned with the limp in and of itself, altho it does seem that a limp that gets worse and better must be causing some discomfort? We just don't want him to be in pain, and we want to help him rehab in any way possible. We took him to a vet who knows GHs (a surgeon- the one who works with ALL the GHs from our rescue group up here), and they did X-rays. She said "he doesn't seem to be in pain", "the bones are healed, the plates can come out", "I think it's a FUNCTIONAL limp, not one caused by pain", and "if it gets worse, bring him back." Here's the official summary:

 

The fractures are healed. Stevie may be feeling some discomfort from muscle or tendon gliding over the plates or perhaps because now the two bones are fused. This may remain the same or may improve over time. For now I do not think he is very uncomfortable so I would give him pain meds only as needed. He also can start to resume normal activity in the hopes that this will build up his muscle. Please recheck with me if he appears to be painful or the lameness worsens at any point. Sometimes implants can be removed if we think they are irritating anything.

 

So, I guess I'm asking for a few things...

 

1) any advice you have would be greatly appreciated, as we've never dealt with a broken bone/rehab before.

 

2) Rehab? Supplements?

 

3) How are we supposed to know if he's uncomfortable/in pain? We have given him rimadyl twice (2 different days), but I read it takes 3 straight days for it to really have an effect? The vet did say he might need NSAIDs occasionally when the lameness gets worse, but "certainly not everyday". Nor would we want him on NSAIDs for the rest of his life.

 

So any advice on the above would be very helpful. He is a very happy boy, he just wants to walk and play, but I have already "overdone it" with him, as I have been paying attention to how much walking it takes for his lameness to increase... yesterday I pushed him too hard, and it told me what he can NOT do yet. We just want him to be a happy dog- to be himself, and play like he SHOULD be able to. We know rehab for this could take a very long time (up to a year?), but we are flying blind, and the official report from the vet above didn't give us any specific recommendations for any rehab that might help... just "if it gets worse, bring him back". I did ask about hydrotherapy, and she said "it might help", and I asked about chondroitin and she said "no- that's for joints, it wouldn't have any effect here, his joints are fine".

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Jake is just over 3 months out of surgery for his broken leg. He still limps most of the time, but as you said it depends on the time of day. It's worse when he has been laying down and just getting up. I'm not sure how to tell if they're in pain so I'll be watching for updates...

 

Edited to add that the surgeon said his bad leg might be just a hair shorter than his other one, so I'm not sure if maybe he will always limp

Edited by NeedlenoseJake

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Photographer in Phoenix, AZ www.northmountainphoto.com

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Our girl had a severely broken leg that ended her career. In our case, she was nearly completely healed by the time we got her and never limped much at all. Her leg has never bothered her and we never did anything particular to rehab her.

 

But an orthopedic specialist should be able to advize you better than a GP vet, and also give you advice on rehab facilities in your area. Swim therapy is particularly useful since it's not weight-bearing but can help rebuild his muscles and help him start using that leg normally again. You can also research canine sports rehab places.

 

Keeping his weight under control and not letting him carry extra pounds will help long term, too. Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements may be useful.

 

Remember too, that greyhounds are sprinters. Even a healthy dog will not be able to walk long distances right off the bat - a 20 minute walk may be the limit in the beginning. You need to gradually work them up to longer walks. Be careful in the hot weather as they overheat very easily.

 

Good luck.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, 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

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Guest BrindleBoy

Jake is just over 3 months out of surgery for his broken leg. He still limps most of the time, but as you said it depends on the time of day. It's worse when he has been laying down and just getting up. I'm not sure how to tell if they're in pain so I'll be watching for updates...

 

Edited to add that the surgeon said his bad leg might be just a hair shorter than his other one, so I'm not sure if maybe he will always limp

 

Our surgeon said same- that leg might be shorter, so limp may be permanent, which is fine so long as he's not in pain. And yes- it always seems worse first thing in the morning.

 

 

But an orthopedic specialist should be able to advize you better than a GP vet, and also give you advice on rehab facilities in your area. Swim therapy is particularly useful since it's not weight-bearing but can help rebuild his muscles and help him start using that leg normally again. You can also research canine sports rehab places.

 

 

 

Well, IDK if this particular vet was an orthopedic specialist- but she is a surgeon- she does surgeries like this, installing plates to set broken legs. She's the surgeon our GH rescue group has been using for years- she's not just a "regular" vet.

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I have some of the same concerns. Q broke his hock in January and had surgery then. His "healed" hock is lumpy and is not straight across the bottom. (He doesn't sit, doesn't "sphinx," doesn't do anything that would put his hock flat against the ground.) He limps, he doesn't support his weight on that foot or leg, and if he runs, that foot doesn't hit the ground.

 

All of that is fine with me, as long as he's not in pain. He doesn't yelp. He gets up and follows me from room to room. He doesn't get into the car on his own, and I don't know if it's because pushing off with that foot would be painful. I've tried tossing treats. He doesn't hop in to get them. I've tried a footstool: he puts his front feet on the stool and stands there, waiting for a miracle. I have a hammock on the back seat, which is great when we're moving, but it means he can't step onto the floorboard to get in the car; it's a longer distance from the ground to the back seat. I'm probably going to have to invest in a ramp because boosting his 65 pounds is killing me. (65 pounds is about 5-6 pounds lighter than he normally raced, and is 10 pounds lighter than he was when he crashed in January. I'm betting he was hurt in October and should have been retired then.)

 

I'm going to try to find an orthopedic specialist here for a consultation. I have a CD with his x-rays from Florida and from SEGA's vet up here. I need someone to assess whether everything in that hock is still in the right place, or has it shifted. (Was the crooked hock the best they could do with the break? Or has something gone wrong since then?) And I want info about whether the vet thinks he's in pain.

In the meantime, he's a sweet, shy 3-year-old. We're battling hook worms (he's much better thanks to meds from the vet and food grade diatomaceous earth). He spends meet and greets lying on his bed, accepting petting from adults and kids. If a noise startles him, he doesn't recover well (drop a plate on the floor and you'll have to peel him off the ceiling), so he isn't likely to be a therapy dog, but that's fine.

 

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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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Guest BrindleBoy

KF:

 

Good luck and well wishes for your Q. He sounds like he's in worse shape than Stevie is. I wish for ONE thing: that they could tell us they were in pain. IDK if Stevie is, but he has no problem jumping up on (or down from) beds and cars. He runs and uses all 4 legs. He does favor the broken leg, and will sometimes "skip" a little when he gallops, not letting that leg touch the ground here and there, and after chasing a squirrel (which he has no issues with his leg), he will, when he stops, hold that leg up. But never whines, never pants (except from the running).

 

I think my next step may be to give him rimadyl for at least 3 days; see if his limp gets "better" (as in less noticeable: because it doesn't seem to be causing him any difficulties), then if it gets "worse" again when I take him off ("worse" being what he is now: limping, but no apparent pain or difficulties), I'll know there's still inflammation, and therefore must be at least a little discomfort?

 

My hope is that he simply "has a hitch in his giddyup" LOL, we would be totally fine with that, even if it never improves... so long as he's not in pain.

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Guest newyorkgrey

My dog broke her leg last Thanksgiving. Our story is different, since the orthopedic surgeon botched the plate surgery. The end result is we have done a lot of research about bones and how they heal, etc. and now have a "special needs" dog - though she doesn't know it. The dog needs to use the leg for it to get stronger, and even though my dog's leg looks a bit like a corkscrew now, she does not have nerve damage and knows how much weight - if any - she wants to put on it. I have dog aspirin, which I gave her for the two days her paw swelled up when we first took her out of the splint/orthotic a few weeks ago. My new vet said she would prescribe Rimadyl for a backup emergency, but I don't expect to give it my dog on a regular basis. I do have the upshot of having seen my dog in pain (when the plate broke out of her skin), so I know when she is really hurting. I am also giving my dog lots of massages. I spent the money to consult for rehab, and it was going to cost thousands of dollars for what just seemed like common sense stuff, so I didn't go any further with it.

 

One more thing, omega 3s are good for inflammation, so look into adding more to your dog's diet. I bought salmon oil in a pump and squirt it into their food each day. I hope this helps.

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Guest BrindleBoy

Good tip on the omega-3... I always give that anyway, it seems to help their coats (dandruff). We DON'T want to use rimadyl unless really necessary; I've never heard of "dog aspirin", I'll have to look that one up. Altho aspirin is also an NSAID, same as rimadyl.

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Good tip on the omega-3... I always give that anyway, it seems to help their coats (dandruff). We DON'T want to use rimadyl unless really necessary; I've never heard of "dog aspirin", I'll have to look that one up. Altho aspirin is also an NSAID, same as rimadyl.

Don't use aspirin ;-)

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Guest newyorkgrey

The aspirin is buffered and liver flavored. Vet said it was fine. I've read all of the horror stories and certainly did not plan on giving my dog aspirin forever. I don't think she had two total, since I cut them up over a few meals. Anyhow, the swelling went down. By the way the rehab specialist said diet is key, so you want to make sure your new dog is getting the calcium, etc. for bone growth. Both vets suggested the BalanceIT website for food formulas with supplements. And I also have 1/2" foam yoga mats placed at key locations for my dogs to jump on when they get off the bed and couch. It makes a big difference.

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Guest BrindleBoy

I asked the vet (surgeon) about supplements, and I specifically said chondroitin and calcium, and she said no- won't help. Not that I always take a doc's word for it, lol, I'm a big believer in diet and holistic. BUT, if the bone is healed already, it seems calcium wouldn't make a difference, no?

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I asked the vet (surgeon) about supplements, and I specifically said chondroitin and calcium, and she said no- won't help. Not that I always take a doc's word for it, lol, I'm a big believer in diet and holistic. BUT, if the bone is healed already, it seems calcium wouldn't make a difference, no?

I'm not sure about chondroitin, but for calcium they should get a good amount from their food and not need any additional. I am taking a biochem class right now and the most important thing I've learned so far is that we should all be taking Omega 3s! It can help reduce inflammation in pretty much all tissues.

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Photographer in Phoenix, AZ www.northmountainphoto.com

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Guest BrindleBoy

Well, the president of the greyhound rescue that saved Stevie (his racing name was AMF Yahoo) actually contacted me with further info on his leg.... just in case anyone is interested....

 

 

The Dr. made it clear to us that Yahoo (Stevie) would probably always have a slight limp, and that limp may get worse if he overexerts himself. His leg was basically shattered before the surgery, so this is not at all unusual. In most cases, he won't need pain meds if he overexerts, just rest. So, your vet is right on in saying that the limp is "functional" for the most part. I would not be surprised if the plates and screws cause him some discomfort, though, especially when he exerts himself. I have a beautiful greyhound at home myself, Derry, that has a similar limp and always will, as her front "ankle" joint is now fused. She also overexerts sometimes, but I rarely have to give meds.

To better answer you question about activity level, Yahoo (Stevie) had free run of a small fenced yard once he was medically cleared. He ran, he jumped, he played. All of these things were more than OK with the Dr. because he needed to strengthen the area. I think he is probably as strong as he is going to get at this point if you are exercising him every day, and that as long as his limp doesn't worsen, all is well.

Which puts our minds at ease somewhat. I'd still love to have the question answered (if it's even possible to answer): if his limp is "functional", and it gets worse, then rimadyl should NOT help, correct? I feel like when it gets worse, it must be from some amount of pain or discomfort, no? (IDK).... we have given him rimadyl a coupe of times, and it does seem to help, but we also rest him at that time, so maybe it's the rest that's helping not the rimadyl...
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Guest gzgreytfun

Raz broke his hock racing also. His owner paid for him to have surgery before he was brought up from WV to the Pittsburgh area and fostered. When we adopted him he was on GlycoFlex II chews. From what I understand they help not only the joint but also supportive connective tissue. We have continued to give him the chews, one each day.

 

At first I was afraid to let him run around in our fenced yard. I checked in with our adoption group and was told that he would decide how much running was comfortable. They said he was totally cleared and his surgery was considered a success and that the healed leg was no more susceptible than his other legs.

That said, he did and still does occasionally favor the leg after exercise. Once in awhile he will actually limp or hold it up. When this happens I always check out his leg for swelling or sensitivity. Usually what I find is a tight hip/upper thigh muscle. I figure that because of his surgery that leg may be a bit shorter or the joint's at a slightly off angle and that causes the thigh/ hip to compensate. It has never been serious enough that we ended up at the vet. After rest and some massage he is fine. We also give him Fish oil with his breakfast.

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Guest Bean_Scotch

I have 2 broken leg hounds....1 of which was healed by the time she got to me...and *3* adoption groups didn't notice!!! They both use their legs, have no hardware though, and get around just fine. I do not add any supplements to their food and just feed them a high-quality dry dog food. I would listen to the vet's advice and consider it a functional limp. If he over exerts himself---just let him rest.

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Guest BrindleBoy

The problem is, he "overexerts himself" every day, it seems. He's not even 2-1/12, and loves to run, play, and chase squirrels. It takes only 90 seconds of his intense activity for his limp to get "worse." Yes, rest does seem to help the limp get back to normal- but the dog runs and plays whenever his limp isn't bad... which means he is constantly "making" his limp worse... i.e., his limp is "normal" and he seems to be in no discomfort, so he takes that opportunity to run around like crazy, worsening his limp. Then he rests long enough for the limp to get better, and repeats the process.....

 

Basically, in the month that we've had him, he hasn't gone more than 2 days w/o "worsening" his limp, and that was when we had rain for a couple days and he couldn't get out to run and play...

 

I'm taking daily notes on all this... the severity of the limp, what the activity level was, did the rimadyl seem to help or not.... so when I take him back to the vet (maybe in another month?) I'll have some more detailed info to give her.

Edited by BrindleBoy
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As someone with two artificial hips, I can tell you that some days I experience significant pain from nerve damage. There is really nothing they can do about it. And there is no reason not to give your dog Rimadyl if it helps. Your vet will want to do blood work probably every six months to make sure his organs are dealing with it OK, but please don't let your dog suffer if he doesn't need to.


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Guest BrindleBoy

but please don't let your dog suffer if he doesn't need to.

 

Well, that's the goal. Just don't know how to tell when the limp is "functional" (non-painful) and when he is feeling discomfort... I have decided to put him on rimadyl for 3 days, and NOT restrict his activity. See what happens. Then when he comes off the rimadyl, I'll NOT restrict his activity. See how it compares.

Edited by BrindleBoy
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Guest BrindleBoy

Coming to the end of 3 days on rimadyl, and I can confidently report that the rimdayl DOES help. His limp doesn't "get bad", "as often", and doesn't "stay bad" "as long". Before this 3-day test, when we would play with the ball or run around like crazy, we would be saying "oh jeez, his limp is worse again", and then it would get back to normal... either in several hours (as in later that day), or perhaps take up to 24 hours to get back to normal. With the rimadyl, it gets back to normal within 1-2 hours, max. And it hasn't got as bad as it was getting.

 

So, now not sure what to do.... I'll have to take this info to the ortho/surgeon, and see what she says... we don't want him living on rimadyl if we can avoid it, and it was her opinion previously that he shouldn't need to...

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