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Nick's Lower Back Injury - help?


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What Tess said. I had a similar injury to one dog and took her immediately to the vet chiro and it really helped. Another dog I had had stenosis and a week's treatments with chiro and accupuncture did tons fo good for him. we kept up the accupuncture for many years whenever he would start to get bad and he always showed visable improvement.

 

Pam

 

Tess didn't say anything...it was me as in Diane.....

 

 

Diane

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Oh, no!!! how horrible to hear, Gloria! nothing I can say to help ease all the sadness and worries you are feeling. And such a young dog too!!!! I just caught sight of this thread. One of my good friends got so depressed too after her brilliant young dog, also had a back injury from a severe collide at full force at an obstacle course when a stray dog ran through full blast. So when our dogs suffer, our hearts bleed too, and we want nothing more on earth than for them to heal and be completely free from pain! I can only imagine all the worry, and thinking what if nothing works???? But as others say, the chiro and eventually hydrotherapy when the dog is better seem to bring quite a bit of relief and gradual strengthening, so we are all keeping our fingers crossed for you! In the UK, hydrotherapy is very popular and has helped many dogs strengthen weakened muscles too. I'm glad so many people are helping out, and the angels in rescue. Tea, what a blessing!

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It is not me, but thanks, its the project. Many people contributed in Dec on paypal. And I think it was because of the little note Shoresdog put up. The board and I decided to use it for a dog related emergancy. And it turned out that was Nick. Everyone helping a little bit makes this world kinder and better.

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Time for me to cry on the keyboard. What a beautiful gift, Tea and Wolftown...Coincidentally, the day before I found Gloria's thread, I was trying to find photos of Tea's lovely dogs, and lost sight of a photo I had found, and found a buried link. I still don't know how I found the link, can't remember cuz I've got crap memory... :P ( I've been visiting Tea's blogs)

 

But here it is what I've found.

 

http://www.wolftown.org/index2.html

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Greetings all ~

 

Just a quick note that I've had some further input on Nick, and I feel more optimistic about him. Another vet gave him a look-over and no matter how they poked, prodded or manipulated, they were unable to illicit any pain response or discomfort response in Nick, whatsoever, and no sign of anything neurologically out of whack. If nothing else, I found that hopeful.

 

So, I'll see what the MRI reveals next Thursday, and I'm keeping fingers crossed, but at the moment, Nick appears to be doing well. Whatever is going on, hopefully it will be manageable, if only by time, rest and ... whatever other measures, but at least I feel guardedly better about him, now. In the meantime, he remains on lock-down, poor guy, but such is life.

 

Thank you again, everyone, for all your kindness and input. It means everything. :) I'll come back to report when I know more.

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

P.S.

Ray, I meant to say thank you! :)

We have a dog chiropractor who comes down out of Truckee, Wendy Robinson, and she has already worked wonders with my old dog, Jesse. She worked on Nick back when he first hurt himself and was good help, so I'm taking Nick back to her on the 22nd. I've become a believer in dog-chiropractors, so thank you!

Edited by Gloria Atwater
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I think someone earlier asked about x-rays. Here's Nick's - it's a picture of a picture, as I taped the plate to my front window with the sun behind it. So, it's not the best quality, but here y'all go. The innards of a dog. :P

 

th_IMG_102809b.jpg

 

Again, I find it encouraging that today a vet was unable to find any pain or flinch response in Nick at all, no matter how or where they prodded or pressed. Keeping fingers crossed ...

 

~ Gloria

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Gloria

I'm sorry you are struggling with Nick's back pain.....you've heard a lot of good advice about diagnosis, treatment, chiro, PT, etc. Regarding spondylosis, most working dogs have it....only the dogs that are x rayed are diagnosed. It is uncomfortable and maybe even painful for some dogs, but many many dogs continue working (maybe with some 'ouchy' periods) for many many years. It is not the end...by no means. But you do need to consider it therapeutically...ie chiro, glucosamin/msn, adequate and, if needed, NSAIDs.

 

I am a little unclear....and I think the rest of the med industry is, as well....but I went through a very scary 'back pain' diagnosis with my own dog (who I love very very much). It was made clear to me that Vet Neurologist treat spine issues, not ortho vets. However, my local ortho vet sees all back issues.

 

Please keep in mind that an MRI is only a diagnosis tool....the $$$$$ only get worse after that....in other words, treatment hasn't even begun.

 

Again, from my own experience, if nerves are involved, steroids are typically prescribed as they are the only nerve anti-inflammatory. Gabapentin is a great spinal pain blocker...it can be used with NSAID and tramadol, if needed.

 

If I can offer any advice...go with your gut and certainly get a 2nd opinion if you feel uncomfortable. I thought an MRI would tell all, but it only ended in a terrible and WRONG diagnosis and a lot of confusion by the veterinary great minds. MRI is not the answer and is certainly not cure for anything....it is only a very expensive diagnostic tool.

 

In my own experience, UC Davis is a great facility....they were more conservative and much more sensible than my experience with private practice vet specialists. I will PM you with the details of my own experience.

 

Best of luck with dear Nick.

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Again, I find it encouraging that today a vet was unable to find any pain or flinch response in Nick at all, no matter how or where they prodded or pressed. Keeping fingers crossed ...

 

~ Gloria

 

Do you know if they palpated rectally? I ask because Gilly is very stoic...the only time I've ever heard her cry out or try to bite was when the neurologist palpated the vertebrae/disc during a rectal exam. I was shocked because up until then we couldn't figure out what was wrong. I felt horrible that she could have so much pain & I [a longtime vet tech] didn't realize it. These dogs will tolerate almost anything!

 

I'll keep my fingers crossed for Nick too.

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Yes, I agree with Cindy....a rectal palpation of the spine is very much part of a spinal exam. AND the dog should not be on pain meds during the exam because the vets are looking for pain response and the dog "feels no pain" when on pain meds. Consult with the vet office about pain meds prior to his specialist appointment.

 

My 2nd opinion vets were very frustrated by the pain meds prescribed by the 1st opinion vet......they had to call him back for a recheck 6 weeks later after taking him off meds.

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Hi Elizabeth and Cindy ~

 

A couple replies, before I fade for the night. Elizabeth, I shall heed your advice. The MRI is just a tool, and if Dr. Richardson or anyone else wants to prescribe some great, terrible, expensive line of treatment ... it just ain't happening. I don't even have a house to mortgage, if I wanted to. I'm doing the MRI mainly for peace of mind, in order to find out what Nick's injury is not.

 

So, I'll take whatever Dr. Richardson gives me as information, and I'll consult with my primary vet, but I'll also go back to this other vet (who is perhaps more conservative,) with whatever results we find.

 

Regarding spondylosis and therapeutic treatments, what you've written, above, is essentially what this second vet said to me. Working dogs are hard on themselves and we just have to manage them - because they won't.

 

I'll go read your PM directly after this, so thank you for taking the time to write. I know you've been through a lot with your dogs.

 

Cindy, neither of the 2 vets I've now seen palpated rectally. However, this second one talk about doing it. I forget why they ultimately declined to do so, but the reason they gave seemed sound at the time ... :rolleyes: (Sorry, I'm wrestling a head cold and I think my capacity to absorb anything but snot is severely limited!) Previously, Nick did react notably to pressure on his lower back, and now that he's had several days of rest, he's no longer in pain. He's actually not that stoic - not like my first border collie, who would happily run on a bloody stump. B)

 

Anyhow, I'm not putting Nick on anything now, since he doesn't seem in pain and I'm wary of administering rimadyl or anything else, just as maintenance. I had guessed that he should not be on pain meds, when I take him in to Dr. Richardson, for the reasons Elizabeth gives.

 

Blah, apologies if I'm not tracking well, here. The Nyquil is starting to kick in. :o Thank you, ladies, for your input and advice.

 

~ Gloria

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My old Boy had spondylosis, as Elizabeth noted it was discovered at age 7 (IIRC) when we X-rayed for bladder/kidney stones. Even at that age he had long spurs and later they did fuse. By the time he was 14-15, he couldn't bend well, and I think the permanent limp he had on the front was the result of those boney processes putting pressure on his spinal cord in the shoulder region. But aside from not being able to turn around in tight spaces, and the late life lameness, it never caused him any real trouble.

 

Because I am another one who has no money and already has large vet bills needing paying off (still paying off Willow's oncologist and it's been nearly 2 years since we stopped going), I almost always choose conservative treatment first. So far, I've not been sorry that I didn't do the expensive diagnostics and treatments. For example, when Kat had a suspected FCE a year ago, I didn't opt for immediate back surgery, but instead chose a conservative route than included steroids and electroacupuncture. Kat is still with me today (unlike a couple of dogs I know whose owners opted for surgery), even though her gait isn't quite normal (it doesn't really slow her down either). (Granted the owners who opted for surgery might have been dealing with slightly different back problems, but still. I've also had similar luck using conservative treatment for torn ACLs.)

 

Anyway, I've found that when I explain my financial situation to my vet, the vet can be quite creative about coming up with solutions that don't cost buckets of money.

 

J.

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Hum...one good thing to remember, by going through any 501c3 emergancy fund the Vets will reduce the fee. The project screens requests through our Vets. Sorry Julie you had such big vet bills. So did Diane! I wish the project could help everyone, but we are stuck just trying to do our best.

and sadly some of it is timing when specific funds come in.

 

 

 

Serena- those are not dogs. That is the wildlife site. I do not think any Sheep dog trial would let me run those kinds of Canids.

 

(Although my trial on sat was kinda like them.)

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Tea,

I wasn't asking for money--just pointing out that one doesn't have to throw a lot of money at a situation, especially if you don't have the money to start with, and you can still have a good outcome.

 

Anyway, I've found that when I explain my financial situation to my vet, the vet can be quite creative about coming up with solutions that don't cost buckets of money.

 

My point was that lack of funds doesn't mean you can't do something for an injured animal--it means you (and your vet) just have to perhaps take a more creative approach. That's all.

 

There are also a lot of organizations around the country that help with veterinary bills for people in need.

 

J.

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I understand and agree!

(I didn't think you were asking for money. Its just we get alot of requests for help when we have no funding.)

 

 

:)

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So, I'll see what the MRI reveals next Thursday

 

Gloria, I thought you were going to have Dr Richardson examine Nick first, and then see if he recommends an MRI. I would certainly encourage this course of action...note well what Elizabeth wrote about investigations sometimes leading down a dangerous path.

 

In human orthopedic issues, many practitioners won't order an MRI if the patient is unwilling to have surgery.

 

Good luck with Nick!

 

Amy

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Hi, just checking back and crossing my fingers for you Gloria! Let us know what you decide about the MRI from what AMC and Elizabeth are saying. I too hope that an easier healing will take place that takes away the need for the MRI too!

 

whoops Tea, I thought Wolftown's wildlife link would have the Wolftown contributions in there since it says Wolftown. Hehe, I had to giggle about the Saturday trials being a Red Riding Hood scenario bwahaha! :lol: (inside joke) but that is pretty funny! :)

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Just to mention my general agreement with Elizabeth and Amy...

 

It's generally not considered good medical practice to use lab tests or modern imaging to go on fishing expeditions. How these tools should be used is to confirm what the diagnostician already suspects based on the careful history and physical exams that were done. In my opinion you've been referred to a very good ortho specialist, you should consider learning what his opinion of your dog's condition is before you have the MRI. If Dr. Richardson wants an MRI then fine, he'll have a good reason for ordering that test, and he'll have something specific that he's looking for. Remember he is a specialist in this field and may have seen other cases like your dog. Your dog may yet need an MRI, but, just as easily, he may not need one at all. Good luck in whatever you decide.

 

Ray

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Hi again ~

 

My apologies if I misled anyone into thinking that I am already getting an MRI for Nick. I have a head cold that's stuffing up my thought processes terribly, so I'm probably not making the best sense. Of course, the decision for an MRI would rest in the hands of a vet, not me.

 

But the way my own primary vet reacted, so quick to pass me off to some specialist elsewhere, made me think it must be nearly a done deal. My vet was the one who referred me to Dr. Richardson, saying Nick should get an MRI. I've been preparing for it as something I should just expect to need done.

 

So, my apologies if I sounded like it was already scheduled. It's not. I'm scheduled to take Nick in for an exam with Dr. Richardson on Thursday, bringing his X-ray, and then we'll see what happens. My hope is that the doc won't see any need for an MRI, at all.

Cheers,

 

Gloria

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A potentially stupid question for any folks in the know:

 

Is an MRI generally regarded as preparatory for surgery?

 

See, I took Nick (and his x-ray) to a second vet, and their thought was that my primary vet had been premature in referring me to an orthopedic vet to (possibly) get an MRI. If I'm not planning on surgery for Nick - and Vet #2 saw no need for that - why would I need an MRI?

 

My primary vet is not in the office today, so I plan to talk to her tomorrow. But I've realized that, in referring me so promptly to a specialist, she pretty much deflected any chance she'd be the bearer of unpleasant news. We've been with this vet hospital for years, so they know how important our animals are, to us. However, while she was tossing scary, multi-syllable words at me the other day, "surgery" was definitely one of the "ifs" she mentioned.

 

I'm hoping some of you may be able to 'splain more about this, because surgery is simply not an option for Nick. Not gonna happen. Granted, Dr. Richardson may not even ask for an MRI. He may look at Nick and say, "Yup, he's tweaked himself, go home and stuff him in a crate for 6 weeks. By the way, here's a prescription for some NSAIDS." Who knows?

 

But I'm hoping my vet isn't looking in a direction that I don't plan to take. I'll know more when I talk to her tomorrow, but I'm just curious to read any responses from folks, here, regarding the purpose(s) of MRIs.

 

Thanks, everyone, for putting up with me. I'm really good at handling crisis situations - except when they're my own! :P

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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Long story, I do have a dog with back issues. She was origionally diagnosed with a "soft tissue injury" by her primary care vet. After months of conservative treatment, we wound up seeing a rehab vet/orthopedist at a vet school. At the time, I was worried about a bad disc. I was told (that at least at this vet school), they do NOT perform MRIs unless surgery is being considered and surgery is really only considererd if the dog is acutely neurologic.

 

We are now working with another rehab vet (the previous moved to another state), not associated with a vet school. We took more xrays. My dog has radiographic evidence of spondylosis, arthritis in some spinal facet joints, and arthritis in her SI joint (and hip dysplasia and elbow arthritis). The vet suspects lumbar-sacral stenosis, but that diagnosis would only be confirmed with an MRI. However, the changes on the xrays are consistant with stenosis. The vet said that in her experience, the outcome of stenosis surgery is not good, so she does not recommend it--the dogs are usually back where they started 6 months after surgery.

 

My dog is doing very well with stretching and strenthening exercises, and NSAIDS as needed. Her agility career is over, but she is currently comfortable with conservative treatment only.

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Gloria,

 

Nothing new to really offer other than a hopeful ending based on an experience that sounds similar to what happened to Chesney. Only difference is I saw what caused Chesney to hurt his back, and part of me is glad and the other part wants to forget the image of my dog not being able to walk.

 

Chesney on Easter Sunday 2009 was at search and rescue training with me. The dogs get some run/play time before and after training. Chesney was running after the other dogs (full tilt, as is typical Border Collie fashion) and went to run through a patch of pretty tall grass. Well the grass was taller than the rest because there was a very large rock keeping the grass long around it. Chesney hit it square in the chest, flipped head over tail and landed screaming. All he wanted to do was come to me for security but his back end lay limp on the ground with him only able to prop himself up on the front legs. I think I lost about 10 years on my life that moment since I'm sure I didn't breath for like 5 minutes.

 

I ran over to him telling him to lie down, when I got to him he still couldn't use his back end. I carried him to the truck and laid him in the back seat while I got numbers and directions to an emergency vet (because it's Easter Sunday of course) and I wasn't familiar with the area. The whole time I'm driving to the vet, all I can think about is my just turned 4 year old dog is going to be crippled for the rest of his life and I am a fresh out of college student with $0 to my name.

 

Once at the vet we did x-rays and a full body check with no sign of a fracture or damage other than a little bit of fluid on the front of his chest (from the impact causing a bruise). It took him about 2-3 hours to actually be able to stand and "walking" by the time I got home 3 more hours later. I rested him for almost a month of nothing but potty walks or slow walks on leash. He was sore for a long time.

 

3 years later I have seen him come up sore a handful of times mostly from jumping after boucing balls thrown by other people who think its cool to see my dog jump :angry: And if I see him a little sore I just keep him low key for a few days and he seems alright.

 

I take him to the Chiro which seems to notably help him and it's something I would recommend (as others have) once the soreness is lessened.

 

With all that rambling, I wanted to offer you a bit of hope, Nick is still young and dogs (if rested properly) have an amazing ability to heal. I won't say that he won't have any residual effects from whatever happened to him, but he should still be able to do what you plan to do with him... ;)

 

*sending good vibes from California*

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Danielle and Blackdawg, thanks for sharing your stories. These dogs can make us grey-headed, can't they? Danielle, your Chesney in particular must have taken years off your life! I think I would have been almost out of my mind. :blink: I'm glad to hear your respective dogs are doing well, or at least well as possible.

 

For my part, I've spoken to my primary vet, and again to my 2nd-opinion vet, and I think I feel pretty good about where we're going, for now. I'll see Dr. Richardson on Thursday and ... just see what he has to say. My vet says he may or may not request an MR: she just wanted to send me to someone who had that option available.

 

So, any fears that my vet was trying to "herd" me in one direction or another are allayed, and I feel encouraged that we're all on the same page. We just want Nick restored to his old athletic ability. Even if it does mean he's laid off for a while.

 

I'll keep folks posted on what happens Thursday with Dr. Richardson! Thanks, everyone, for all your support, advice, encouragement and virtual hand-holding. What a wonderful border collie community we have! :D

God bless you,

 

Gloria (and Nick)

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Thursday? Gloria? Am keeping fingers crossed for Nick! May the Good Lord bring future and fast healing for Nick. Hope there is great news from Dr. Richardson as well. It's such a relief to have a good vet do a good analysis and I'm sure Nick is in very capable and good hands too!

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GOOD NEWS!!! :D

 

I'm back from the wilds of Sacramento, and basically, Nick is okay! Dr. Richardson subjected Nick to perhaps the most thorough physical exam the poor guy's ever endured - including the cold, gelled-finger-in-the-rectum trick - but Nick bore it like a trouper. And the news is pretty good!

 

Dr. Richardson found absolutely nothing wrong with Nick neurologically or anywhere else. All his responses and reflexes are wholly normal. There were no pain or discomfort responses to anything, including the little rubber mallet to the knees. (I didn't know they used those on dogs!) No sign of any bulging or herniated disks, either. Just ... nothing. In fact, at one point Dr. Richardson looked up at me, from listing off non-symptoms to his technician, and said, "I guess you can tell that I'm not finding anything wrong with your dog." :P

 

Unfortunately, however, ... Nick's idiot mother forgot to bring his x-rays! :huh: (Where's that head-banging icon when I need it?)

 

So, a pretty danged important component of the exam was missing, and I have to either mail the plate to them or hand-deliver it if I'm over that way in the next while. I suspect I'll just mail it, since I don't think I'll be in Sacto within the next couple weeks.

 

This does leave us with one possibility, which we lacked the means to rule out, today. Dr. Richardson noted, as did my primary vet, that Nick's rump has a bit of a drop at the croup, which apparently neither vet entirely likes. And sometimes Nick lets his tail hang straight down, no curl to the tip, just wholly lax and straight down. Which again, Dr. Richardson didn't entirely like.

 

He said that these things, and the recurring ouchiness, could - could - be indicators of a condition called "transitional vertebral segments." A lot of you may already know what that is, (and it's apparently fairly common in GSDs) but in a nutshell, it's when the sacrum, that sort of pivot-point bone between the end of the backbone and the beginning of the tail, develops a defect. Instead of being a single, solid piece of bone that acts as a sort of shock-absorber at the end of the backbone, it sort of divides itself into a couple little mini-vertebra. This then can flex which cause the L7 vertebra, the last one, to impinge on the nerves inside the spine.

 

IF this is what's going on, then eventually Nick would need surgery to enlarge the tiny space through which the nerves pass. The injury Nick experienced, though unrelated, could have simply caused the disk and whatnot to inflame and thus get pinched, whereas the un-injured nerves had been able to avoid getting pinched. So far.

 

But you know ... I'm hoping - reeeeeeeeeeeally hoping - that the X-ray will dispel that worry. Dr. Richardson had a great time showing me all the fancy animated widgetry on their big-screen computer, and also example x-rays of dogs who DID have TVS. It was very interesting stuff.

 

However, to my very, extremely untrained eyes ... I don't think Nick's x-ray looks like the affected dogs'. I don't see the little mini-vertebra thing going on with his sacrum. But I'll send the x-ray to Dr. Richardson and see if he agrees, or if he thinks that when Nick gets older, there may be a problem, after all.

 

Meanwhile, I am very hopeful and I'm just doing to look forward to a positive outcome. For Nick, for now, it's just rest and more rest, and then back to work. Richardson actually didn't seem to think extreme rest was necessary, but dang it, I hurt my back last summer and I know how long it takes a back to heal.

 

If all that's wrong with Nick is that he got in a collision, got an owie, and I didn't give him long enough to heal, then this time, I'm giving him time enough to heal.

 

So, Nick is off duty until at least mid-February. If God grants it, he'll be ready to trial at Sonoma and Zamora, so whatever I do with him in the meantime will be with the goal of getting him sound, and keeping him sound. This dog carries my every hope, and it's on me to step and do the best for him.

 

And .... that's that, for now! Thank you, everyone, for all your well wishes, advice, shared experiences, good vibes and prayers. All of it has meant ever so much.

 

Thank you, Border Collie Forum! Y'all rock! :D

Sincerely,

 

Gloria and Nick

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