Degenerative Myelopathy and Neuro Conditions
Question from the vet pain assn. board:
Does anyone have any recommendations regarding treatments for a 14 year old Husky with Degenerative Myelopathy? So far, the only thought I have is a cart. Also, my understanding is these animals are not in significant pain – is this true? Thanks for any info.
I apologize for taking so long to reply. I have a 30-yr. background in human sport science and nutrition, worked two years in a veterinary specialty hospital designing and building the rehab dept., and since 2007 have had a mobile practice wherein I serve a huge number of “mystery-ortho-neuro” cases, many of which are presumed to be D.M.
The protocol I have developed over time, and which has been successful at improving function to varying, but notable, degrees is derived predominately from my long-time experience in sport science program design. A body at rest stays at rest and only changes with dynamic interference…
Pain management discussion aside (and I DO agree that while D.M. may not produce pain in and of itself, it is highly likely that an animal with any neuro condition has self-induced pain by nature of the fact that they are compensating, stressing tissues, and possibly pinching nerves, akin to when our sciatica or sub-scapular, etc…get impinged and cause us pain), I introduce a system of simple, vibration-based, massage with a $4.99 Homedics unit (see the video elsewhere in this blog), Low-Level Laser Therapy (MUCH research exists regarding nerve conduction, regeneration, re-invigoration), and a plan of return to whatever level of function is possible via primarily-animal-induced movement exercises, retraining brain-to-limb neural pathways and encouraging focus on movement and function. Strength and endurance/conditioning drills I concoct depending on each animals status are implemented. I begin with laser twice a week for a month and review exercise protocol that the owner is charged with doing if they are capable and which I do if the owner prefers. I use a front harness designed for riding in the car that has fleece and the best stitching I have found and only costs $30 shipped from Petsmart. This is the Travelin’ Dog harness. I turn it around, and it is “perfect” for hind end support (legs through arm holes, tail through neck hole) while relieving owner back stress, if used properly. It is much better designed for the body than the blue neoprene sling, less pressure on the abdomen than a belly sling, and less problematic than a Bottoms-Up sling. No one pays me to promote these items; I have just found that they are simply the best and cheap, and in my years of experience I deem that they work better than a lot of what is out there. I have pics of neuro dogs wearing these harnesses around this blog.
There are many more things that may be done, however getting the owner started on helping the animal around the home in a manner that hurts neither owner nor animal, and in a manner that is most productive time-wise, is one of the major components of my mobile practice. I tend to not involve owners in activities that, again, would potentially cause more harm than good or waste more time than be productive.
I also utilise Ruff Wear boots, usually sometime along the way, for dogs, depending on function-ability, to encourage hind limb use and stability in the home on tile and wood floors. I have contacted the company twice to positively discuss their product and have never heard back from them, nonetheless, they have a product that provides great traction and encourages increased mobility.
OH! And on several elderly canine patients I have used epsom salts baths to great benefit. Owners HAVE to ensure they rinse off all the salt residue after the bath, otherwise if the dog licks it, which they usually will, diarrhea will likely ensue.
I am in a hurry to get to a dog event today and have been intending to respond to this mail and to the mail regarding laser therapy for quite some time. Only have time for this right now, and while it is definitely not all-inclusive, I trust it is a help.
Blessings to All, and I much enjoy and forward many of the informative posts to vet and pharmacist friends. I have been through surgeries and injuries and I am also a patient advocate and navigator for humans, especially for cancer, so I have paid much attention to pain management for many years. Thank you, thank you for your progressive and beneficial attitudes and approaches!
(from a note posted to the IVAPM, veterinary pain management forum)