The Skinny on Intervertebral Disc Disease

The Skinny on Intervertebral Disc Disease

Dr. Christina Cole of Advanced Animal Chiropractic is back on our blog today to discuss a serious ailment facing many local pets, Intervertebral Disc Disease:

Over the last few months, a multitude of clients have come my way with a diagnosis of Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in various stages of progression. I’m sure part of it has to do with my profession, as an animal chiropractor people naturally think of me when it comes to back problems. Unfortunately, the majority of patients have come my way a bit too late. As you may or may not know, chiropractic adjustments do not treat anything in particular besides structural shifts in the spine. These shifts can cause many problems, IVDD being one of them.

Dr. Christina Cole of Advanced Animal Chiropractic is back on our blog today to discuss a serious ailment facing many local pets, Intervertebral Disc Disease:

Over the last few months, a multitude of clients have come my way with a diagnosis of Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in various stages of progression. I’m sure part of it has to do with my profession, as an animal chiropractor people naturally think of me when it comes to back problems. Unfortunately, the majority of patients have come my way a bit too late. As you may or may not know, chiropractic adjustments do not treat anything in particular besides structural shifts in the spine. These shifts can cause many problems, IVDD being one of them.

After the tenth or eleventh IVDD patient, I decided it was necessary to learn more about this disease so that I could find a way to help sooner. Here's what I found:

Who is affected by IVDD?

According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, the Bible of veterinary medicine, IVDD is “degeneration and protrusion of the intervertebral disc resulting in compression of the spinal cord, spinal nerve, and/or nerve root”.* The animals most affected by this disease are those with chondrodystrophy, a cartilage disorder in animals that causes irregular cartilage formation.** Connective tissue is affected often leading to irregular bony structure. These dogs tend to look either squished or stretched, to put it simply, and oftentimes have shortened limbs with angular deformities. At risk breeds include beagles, bassett hounds, dachshunds, bulldogs, pekingeses, and shih tzus.

When does IVDD typically begin?

Depending on the dog, IVDD typically hits at two different life stages. For smaller dogs, the first stages of degeneration can begin during puppyhood, with the disc starting to bulge and irritate the nerve root. An occasional limp may occur but more often than not, symptoms may not arise until later in life (and when they do, they tend to come full force). For large breed dogs, the type of disc disease is slightly different and the progression is a bit slower. Rottweillers tend to be affected often by fibroid disc disease. What starts as a limp can progress into a dragging of the legs and eventually lead to paraplegia if the right steps aren’t taken.

What are the symptoms of IVDD?

The location of the disc protrusion will determine which symptoms an animal will experience. For example, lumbar disc disease shows up with back pain, hunching of the back (kyphosis), twitches in the legs, ataxia, and paraplegia. While with cervical disc disease, one can expect to find muscular spasm, neck pain, neck rigidity, and occasionally front limb lameness. Onset of these symptoms can be either quite quick or they can build for several months. Oftentimes our animals show us symptoms of pain or discomfort, and because they then mask those symptoms, we think everything is okay. If your animal is one of the breeds predisposed to IVDD, it is imperative you get them evaluated if they show any symptoms, no matter what age. These things cannot be ignored because there is such a small window during which recovery is possible.

What's the prognosis of IVDD?

This is entirely dependent on the animal and the stage of IVDD. According to the Merck Manual, the most telling feature of IVDD is whether or not the animal maintains deep pain perception below the lesion. If deep pain is present, there is a much greater recovery than if it is not. When an animal presents with paraplegia and lack of deep pain, there is a small chance they could develop myelomalacia (softening of the spinal cord). This syndrome is accompanied by paralysis of not only the forelimbs, but also of the respiratory system.

My encounters thus far have been a mixed bag. I have seen animals that develop myelomalacia and very quickly lose the ability to function, animals that are paraplegic in the hind limb but function perfectly with a set of wheels, and animals that had surgery within that small window of actionable time and are recovering nicely. I have also seen animals that have been treated for IVDD with alternative care using cold laser therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic, which have gone on to make near full recoveries. Ideally, we could catch these cases much sooner in the progression of the disease. In the end, prevention is much easier on all parties involved. It’s just a matter of knowing what to look for and when you see it, knowing how to move forward.

For further questions regarding IVDD and what alternative therapy can do for your animal, please feel free to contact us at info<at>thepetbeastro.com.

Dr. Christina Cole’s upcoming pet chiropractic sessions at the store are:

  • Tuesday, October 6 from 5 - 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 10 from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • Friday, October 16 from 3 - 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 20 from 5 - 8 p.m.

For more information or to schedule a session, call the store today at 248-548-3448. Please note that all chiropractic care is given with the consent of a veterinarian, veterinarian referral, or in a veterinarian office. If you’ve scheduled an appointment, please bring this completed form with you. 

* The Merck Veterinary Manual. Intervertebral Disc Disease. Available at: http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/nervous_system/diseases_of_the_spinal_column_and_cord/degenerative_diseases_of_the_spinal_column_and_cord.html. Accessed April 14, 2015.

** Smolders LA, Bergknut N, Grinwis GC, Hagman R, Lagerstedt AS, Hazewinkel HA, Tryfonidou MA, Meij BP. Intervertebral disc degeneration in the dog. Part 2: chondrodystrophic and non-chondrodystrophic breeds. Vet J. 2013 Mar;195(3):292-9.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Leave a comment
* Your email address will not be published
* Required fields
Free Shipping Over $49
Satisfaction Guarantee
Made In The USA Products
Free Return Policy