Meeker's Back? Injury

20 Jun 2010Steve Schwarz

As folks on my FaceBook page know Meeker came up limping before going to agility class on June 1st. I’ve been meaning to post information here but I’ve being trying to get to the bottom of the cause of his injury. I’m still not completely sure of the cause, but rather than waiting forever, here’s an update on what I know so far.

The injury occurred as he ran for his Wubba in the backyard. I’m pretty careful about safe fetch game play and now use the wubba because it doesn’t bounce and I always throw it so Meeker doesn’t leap toward it or jump to get it; he runs out and I throw it high in the air, it lands near him and he grabs it and runs back to me. So no sudden acceleration/deceleration or twisting.

So I was surprised when he let out a squeak and came back to me holding his left rear leg up. I was teaching for Dana at For Your Canine and knew Ron Hanik of A+ Pet Massage and Swimming would be there and might be able to take a look at him. While driving I called TOPS Vet Rehab and got an appointment the next afternoon with Dr. Christine to take a look at him.

Ron had some time and gave Meeker a massage. He didn’t find much wrong with him, IIRC Meeker was warm in his lower back and had some tightness in the muscle around his left rear knee… But no obvious muscle injury. So I’m thinking some knee ligament injury… aaargh. After teaching I iced his leg, gave him Ascriptin and Traumeel and went to bed.

At TOPS Dr. Christine gave him a thorough going over and didn’t find any sign of knee injury or re-injury of his quads. So it looked like a possible disk injury; especially due to the acute onset of the injury. So she did a minor chiropractic adjustment and started laser therapy at the lumbar-sacral area. She kind of scared me by saying if we don’t see improvement in 3 laser sessions it was time to see a neurologist to see if he has damaged a disk or has some other spinal injury.

So I’m talking to everyone I know and the notion that it might be a tick borne disease came up. Last year I’d pulled a tick out of Meeker and he was negative via testing a Protatek in AZ; but maybe he was just sub clinical. So I scheduled a blood draw from our regular vet after the next laser treatment. There was some significant improvement in Meeker’s gait, he was putting his leg down most of the time (except for stairs) within a couple days.

So a week and 3 laser treatments after the injury we get the tick panel results, all four tests were negative. Good. Meeker is still limping but better. Dr. Lisa did the laser treatment and found he was very warm in his back at the Lumbar/sacral interface, mid back and his shoulders. He was also showing cramping of the muscles mid back. She did a minor chiropractic adjustment and laser treated all three areas. Based on his improvement and this more systemic type of reaction I decided to not seek out a neurologist just yet.

The heat over Meeker’s shoulders reminded me that the Friday before the SmackDabs AKC trial Meeker got his 3 year rabies vaccination at that site (there was no lump or inflammation at the injection site). That would have been four days before he got injured. I’m not a vaccination alarmist and wasn’t ready to blame it for this injury. But in my non-medical opinion whatever was going on with Meeker doesn’t seem to fit with a trauma from running to a toy.

I contacted my vet to contact the vaccination company to see if they had any reports of lameness for the recently delayed batch of product from which Meeker’s shot was obtained. So far no reply. Meeker wasn’t running a fever but my vet did test out his blood test machine with some of Meeker’s blood that was left over after sending it out to AZ and found higher than normal liver enzymes.

Friday Dr. Christine saw him and the heat is gone from his back. She did a chiropractic postural adjustment on him; the range of motion in his neck wasn’t the same from side to side and she got him moving better. It was a pretty significant adjustment. She is pretty happy with how well he is moving. She is having us try Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy until we see her again on Tuesday. We’ll probably do some acupuncture on Tuesday also.

Yesterday went back to my vet and did another blood draw and he is sending it out for CBC, thyroid, and blood coagulation tests, we are looking for any systemic reason for his back inflammation. He also did a reflex test (lightly pinched the skin up and down on his back) and found Meeker’s reaction on his left at the mid back wasn’t the same as on his right… But, as he said, Meeker is pretty stoic so I’ll repeat the tests today and see what I find.

So now to today - almost three weeks from his injury. Meeker’s limp is very slight now and hard to see at many speeds but is still there. The heat in his back is gone (but it was already hard for me to detect). We are waiting for the blood tests to come back and will see if the PEFT helps get him all the way back to normal.

Someone asked me how much this was costing… I guess we never talk too openly about these things. So far it is around $1200 about 40% blood tests and the rest rehab. But a normally walking Meeker playing with his brothers: “priceless”.

Thanks to everyone who has sent their good thoughts to Meeker and me, we appreciate them!

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