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Nick's Lower Back Injury - help?

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FANTASTIC and Wonderful News, Gloria!!!! Uh, I don't think you need a headbangin' emoticon. You need this instead as cheers from everyone on this great news...pup.gifgrouphug.gifpup.gif What a huge relief, and you need to give yourself a break. Things are very stressful and I'm sure you were busy trying to prepare and pack for the long road trip to see Dr. Richardson.


Well, it's looking like a real solid trip to healing :D I too am expecting the last final ok with those XRays as well. Yes, I agree about the "taking it easy" because this speeds up healing. Heheh about the human back, plus, unlike humans, border collies keep goin' and motorcyclin' way past their limits....They don't know how to stop, so I'm glad you're giving Nick that extra break. Cheers to a wonderful recovery for Nick!

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Sounds fabulous!


Transitional vertebrae? I have a friend with a natural bobtail Aussie. He has what the vet called a transitional vertebra but the way she described that one to me is that natural bobtail is a mild form of spina bifida (like the ridgeback in Rhodesian Ridgebacks is a mild for of SB), and one of the manifestations can be a transitional vertebra - which in his case is a partly-fused pair of vertebrae, where they are fused on just one side of the spine. That causes, for him, a asymmetry.


So her dog always, while very active, was more comfortable moving on a circle in one direction rather than the other - in other words, he favored one lead over the other as his sacrum could flex more naturally in one direction and not in the other. This seemed mostly to affect his stock work in that he was less comfortable moving on one cast than the other since he either had to counter-canter or mix his leads up (am I being totally confusing?).


He did very fine, taking the occasional lesson on sheep or cattle, doing agility for fun, and other normally active dog pursuits. But when he reached the age of 9 to 10, he began to slow down noticeably as arthritis finally began to take its toll, due to his uneven gait.


It sounds like something a bit different from what you are describing, and it sounds like Nick has an excellent chance for a full recovery. Very best wishes!

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Though I posted this elsewhere, I should probably include it here. This is Dr. Richardson's official diagnosis, for Nick:


"He does appear to have some mild expression of Transitional Vertebral Segmentation as evidenced by what I believe is a small vestige of soft tissue at the juncture of S1 and S2. The LS (lumbosacral) Spondylosis is also evident and I would correlate that early development to this transitional aspect of the L-S anatomy. Consequently, ruling out the hips as you have his radiographs and my evaluating his knees by physical exam, we are left with a clinical diagnosis of Cauda Equina, with episodic expression by his bursts of activity.


I have informed Ms Atwater that this will likely worsen in time and thereby prepared her for possible surgical intervention when deemed necessary. I have had more success than not in helping such patients by dorsal decompression, guided by an in house CT scanning immediately before entering the OR. Many of our law enforcement dogs have returned to work, and I would expect an athletic outcome for Nick, providing neurologic damage does not ensue before decompression."


Repeating what I said in my other post/thread, it looks like he's saying that the early onset of the spondylosis is due to the TVS in his sacrum, and that Nick's physical exertions (he uses himself like an Abrams tank!) trigger his painful physical symptoms. And apparently he feels surgery will halt the whole nasty mess.


It's going to take time to get finances prepared for anything like that, so in the interim, I'm doing what I can. I am getting another set of X-rays, since quality of the single plate that was taken has come into question. And I will be getting a second opinion from another orthopedic vet. I doubt the diagnosis will change one bit, but I'd just like another set of eyes on the problem.


Meanwhile, Nick will continue laid off for at least a couple more weeks, though I am going to call or fax Dr. Richardson with a couple questions. Initially he seemed to think I could return Nick to work whenever I felt he was ready, and just monitor his activity. I want/need to know if this diagnosis has changed that, since right now, I feel as if Nick sneezes, he could fall apart! :huh:


And also in the meanwhile, I've had Nick cold-lasered, he's going to get chiropracted and acupuntured tomorrow, and I'm continuing to supplement him with Synovi G3 and MSM. Looking at some other supplements, too. So, we'll see what happens in the weeks ahead. I'm curious to see if the lay-off and treatments make any difference at all, or if Nick will continue to come up with episodes of discomfort.


So, that's that. I'll come back and post more as I know more.


Thanks again, everyone, for your input.


~ Gloria

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FYI, if anybody wants to be FYI'd ... ;)


I'm taking Nick in for a 2nd opinion. Week after this, on Friday Feb 3rd, I'm taking Nick over to Dr. D. W. Griffin at Loomis Basin Veterinary Hospital in Loomis, CA. There I'm going to get Nick a set of digital x-rays, as well have Dr. Griffin look him over.


Suzy Applegate recommended him to me, as she's had dogs to him and is very pleased with his work. So, I'll get the digital x-rays I probably should have had in the first place, as well as another doctor's look at and opinion of Nick's situation.


Kind of interesting, in my reading around, it seems there are various causes of Cauda Equina, some being from injury or incident, and various ways to approach it. Anyhow, I just really want a second look at this.


Meanwhile, Nick is in Week 3 of his layoff and though he's a pretty mellow dude at home, he's starting to get bored. Prime symptoms being that every evening, he drags the dog toys out and scatters them around the house, with occasional rounds of barking at them - or us. He's such a giant dork. :P


And that's the news. He's doing great, feeling good, so I'll see how he looks whenever I start letting him do stuff again. Which won't be until late February, and also depends on what Dr. Griffin says.


Peace, out. :)


~ Gloria


Dr. Griffin is versed in both orthopedic and neurologic matters.

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oh, craaaaap!!!! I just got back from a very draining weekend, and am still trying to process! give our hugs to Nick! The other thread is frightening me, but over here the Blessed boy is still trying to cheer up his Mama with his antics... I'll be back. My head is trying to sort out what's happening....

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, hell. Instead of Nick going to the vet, my TRUCK went in. To the shop, that is. On my way to see Dr. Griffin on Friday, my poor little old Mazda pickup decided to conk out and die by the side of the road.


Luckily I was only about 20 miles out of town, and AAA got me a tow back down to a garage, where I could call hubby. Turns out the battery and alternator are kaput.


The folks at Loomis were very understanding and sympathetic, and so his exam and X-rays are re-scheduled for Friday the 17th. Hoping we can actually get to that appointment!


Stay tuned ...


~ Gloria

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  • 2 weeks later...

Alrighty, then! I'm back from the wilds of central California, having gotten Nick safely to - and from - the vet in Loomis, CA. (I almost got stuck in an infinite loop between road construction on one railroad crossing and a TRAIN blocking the tracks on the detour!)


Anyhow, reiterating stuff I posted on Facebook ... Nick may *still* need a 4 or 5 thousand dollar back surgery. But honestly, it's not as scary as it was, and it's not immediate.


I took Nick in to see Dr. D.W. Griffin of Loomis Basin Veterinary Hospital. Just as with Dr. Richardson at Campus Commons in Sacramento, he was given an extremely thorough physical exam, which returned Nick's neurological responses as wholly normal. His musculature, stance, weight-bearing and everything were absolutely balanced and correct. However, Dr. Griffin did think Nick showed some discomfort when pressed firmly at the lumbo-sacral area. Not a lot, just Nick tilting his head to shoot a dour glance back at the doc. ;)


Then - oh, happy day! - they took not one, not two, but three beautiful digital X-rays. Those things are so COOL! :P


Ultimately, Dr. Griffin's findings did not differ drastically from Dr. Richardson's. Nick has a form of Cauda Equina, with spondylosis-y stuff going on at the juncture of L7 and his sacrum. There's an instability there that's been pinching and causing the pain he was experiencing. I do not know the *cause* of that, but it seems to be something that just ... happens. Wear and tear in a hard-driving dog. I'm not sure if Nick's accident back in October (whatever it was) caused it, or just triggered its manifestation. I belatedly realized I need to ask Dr. G some more questions. (Hey, my brain was full!)


However, he said that it's a very mild form of the condition. If Nick were a house dog, he'd have told me to just take Nick home, keep him fit, watch his weight and feed him glucosamine. But given that Nick's a working sheepdog, an athlete, it may not be so simple. What we have at the moment is "wait and see."


What IS notably different is that Dr. Griffin looked at our shiny, nifty, awesome new digital X-rays (all 3 views) and he did NOT see the Transitional Vertebral Segmentation that Dr. R. thought he saw in the previous, single-film X-ray. People, this is SUCH a relief! This means that Nick doesn't have something congenitally wrong with him. He's just damaged himself while storming around being a border collie.


He could still, (maybe, possibly, someday?) sire healthy Nick-babies and leave a legacy behind. It's a dream, anyhow. :)


Meanwhile, though, I can bring him carefully back to work, focus on his fitness, monitor how he's doing and let time tell. Dr, Richardson said lots of long walks and swimming if possible would be good for his overall fitness. Also, the doc approved of my regimen of MSM, Synovi G3 and Cetyl-M supplements for Nick. Then, if going back to work means that Nick does regress to pain and lameness ... I'll know that surgery will come sooner than later. Next fall maybe. Or not.


But it's such a relief to have a clear picture of what's going on, clear knowledge of what to do and what to watch for, and so good to escape the pressure of, "OMG, need surgery, need surgery, MUST DO SURGERY, OMG, SURGERY!" that I had begun to feel from Dr. R.


I have room to breathe. I have things to do, to help Nick. I still have a dog I can work, in the meanwhile. And the potential of *needing* surgery no longer feels like the end of the world. Nick's not on the brink of shattering like a twig.


*whew* I needed that. I'll have the X-ray images PLUS an impartial evaluation from their radiologist by next week, so I'll share all that, when I get 'em. :)


Thank you, everyone, for sticking with me, putting up with me, and offering your support. And special thanks to T and WolfTown and everyone who has contributed to them! They cut today's vet bill nearly in half. :D


Just had some pie. Now going to have some wine. Yes.


~ Gloria

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  • 3 months later...

Hi, Gloria, I fell off the planet, had some issues starting January which did not clear until March, but so glad to re-read the postings here. How is Nick doing? is he back to trialing? I remember you mentioning about April. Bless on Tea and Wolftown too....


Loved the X'Rays. So crystalline sharp!

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Hi Serena ~


Thank you so much for your inquiry! :) I'm pleased to say that, thus far, Nick is doing very well. It took time, rest, laying off and some home-spun rehab, as well as some acupuncture and a dose of cold laser, but as of now, he is back on his feet and back trialing. I'm very careful with the sort of things I let him do and the fun I let him have, but so far - touch wood - he's holding up well.


I am still reserving the possibility that something could revive the whole mess, but at this point, he seems not only back to his old self, but feeling better than ever. May God keep him on this trend for many long years to come. :)


Thank you again for asking.


~ Gloria

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Well, I am so relieved, but I also empathize. Once a Mama, always a Mama about worrying over our sweet "pups". They'll always be a pup to us. And I can definitely so understand about constantly checking, always trying to triple make sure about the safety. And it's often hard to know for sure. I too worry when Eluane gets near retirement age, I will not know either. I always check look for her right hind leg. She once had a spiral fracture in that leg, and it's the same leg she tore a toe pad and sometimes I think do I see a limp or is she nursing something there?? But nothing at all like what poor Nick has gone through of course. Plus Nick continues to work whereas other dogs are more involved with "hobbies"....


Well, as I say, the Good Lord and our big hearts continue to love and help us watch over our dogs. And Nick is a Lucky Boy to have Cold Laser, the Acupuncture and the Loving Home Remedies :D Well, Bless on Him! We are looking forward to seeing more NIck and trialing photos to celebrate with!

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