Intervertebral Disk Disease

You ain’t gonna believe what done happened to me. The other day, I had done my happy breakfast break-dance, ate, peed and went back to bed. When I woke up, I tried to lift me head and I had the horribablmendous pain in my neck when I tried to lift my head. I thought I was dying, so I started screaming like a stuck pig. My mama came arunnin and was sweet talking and loving all over me while trying to figure out what was wrong wid me. I finally managed to lift my head and stood up. But when I stepped a certain way, it hurt. When I tried to turn my head, it hurt. When I tried to bark, it hurt. And every time it hurt, I screamed…LOUD! My mama called Cherokee Trail right away and got me an appointment with my extra smart vetmernarian friend, Dr. Swenson.

(Editor’s Note: Lulu is very dramatic and is not very good at spelling and grammar).

thgyvfl6hiDr. Swenson examinated me and could tell that I was very painful in my cervical disks. See, the backbone is made up of a bunch of small bones called vertebrae that hold and protect the spinal cord. The vertebrae are connected by joints called intervertebral disks that serve as cushions between each vertebrae. Then there are these ligaments that run above and below the disks and are rich in SENSITIVE nerves. Dr. Swenson explained that sometimes a dog moves the wrong way or has a degenerative process that may cause a disk herniation. When dis happens, the disk material presses against the ligament and spinal cord. This causes SEVERE pain and in really bad cases causes neurological problems like being unable to walk and control urination and poops! Dr. Swenson said that disk herniations in the neck tend to be more painful but have less neurological dysfunction.

After the vetmernarian finishes the neurological exam, the next step is usually x-rays to determine the location and reason for the problem. However, x-rays of the neck require general anasteshu to get proper relaxamation of the muscles. Problem is that I am an English Bulldog and we don’t breafth so well and anasteshu is more of a risk for me. Dr. Swenson decided against x-rays for now and chose conservatative treatment. But in severe cases where neurological deficits are severe, the pet may be referred to a specialist for MRI or CT and possibly surgical intervention. Dr. Swenson told me that the longer a pet has had neurological issues, the poorer the prognosis. She told me to tell everyone dat when a pet loses the ability to walk, it is considered an emergency and the pet should be seen and start on treatment as soon as possible!

Dr. Swenson told me that I would need strict confinement in order to heal. WHAT THE WHAT!!! She told my mama that I could only be let out my crate to go to the potty! I was pretty miffed, but the truth be told, I was ahurtin so bad I really didn’t want to move around that much. That was until the drugs kicked in! Yes, great, wonderful, awesome drugs. Dr. Swenson subscribed me some steroids, muscle relaxers and pain medicine. And she told my mama to ice and massage my neck multiple times a day. Once I took those meds and got that extra TLC for a few days, I felt like I was ready to party, but my mama would not let me outta the crate, so I whipped out my IPhone and called Dr. Swenson. She said that I only felt good because of the drugs and that my body had not healed yet and I would only hurt myself worse if I got out of crate rest. SERIOUSLY!!! Well, I watched a lot of Animal Planet, read Dog Fancy and played on my tablet to pass the time while I was resting.

thlu1chhmfWhile I was in my incarceration, I mean confinement, I realized just how lucky I am. I could walk and didn’t have any other neurological deficits. Some dogs are not so lucky. They have to have surgery and lots of physical therapy just to restore them to a decent quality of life. Other dogs are beyond surgical repair and are never able to walk again. Some dogs do well with carts to help them keep amovin. But taking care of a dog that is “down in the back” is a very big project. Still, it can be done and for the right dog and the right person, it is a highly rewarding experience.

I healed from my epimasode but had another flair up several months later and had to go through the same ordeal all over again. Dr. Swenson has ordered me to STOP the happy breakfast break-dance…and the let’s play tornado…and the harass the goats whirligig…and any other neck wrenching activities. What a buzz kill! So, I have taken up activities that only involve the movement of my hips and badonkadonk. Well, I gots to go sashay for the boys next door.

Until next time…




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