What is Lumbosacral Disk Disease?
Lumbosacral disk disease is degeneration compression of the associated nerves of the lumbosacral joint. In humans, the lumbosacral joint is where we feel low back pain. In dogs, the lumbosacral junction is one of the highest-motion joints of the spine it is also the connection between the highly mobile lumbar section of the spine and the sacrum which is much more rigid, because of this any abnormal movement can cause instability and pain to your dog.
How Do I Tell if My Dog Has Lumbosacral Trauma?
Generally, Lumbosacral disk disease is caused by trauma. If your dog has had a fall or landed strangely from a jump you will want to monitor their spine and back to see if they are suffering from pain. Run your hands down their back applying a bit of pressure, if they yelp or move away from your hands it might be a good idea to check in with your veterinarian. Lumbosacral disk disease can also cause hind leg pain and hind leg weakness and the inability or unwillingness to wag their tails.
How to Treat Lumbosacral Disk Disease
- Treating Lumbosacral Disk Disease starts with a trip to your veterinarian! Your vet will preform an MRI of your dog's spine to see if there is trauma.
- Depending on the severity of the spinal injury your vet may recommend surgery or treat it conservatively with physical therapy and crate rest.
- Decompressive Surgery (laminectomy)- If your pup is effected by extrusion or protrusion of the intervertebral disc with no evidence of instability or compression of the nerve roots a procedure called surgical decompression by dorsal laminectomy can be preformed. This surgeon will remove some of the bony casing of the spinal canal, allowing access to remove any bulging or ruptured intervertebral disc material that is causing your dog pain.
- Lumbosacral Distraction Stabilisation Surgery- This is a fairly new surgery where your dog's surgeon will begin by stretching the lumbosacral joint by placing a custom made titanium bolt between the vertebrae, and secure it in place with either pins and bone cement or a pedicle screw system similar to the systems used in human spinal surgery, this will allow addition security to the spine.
Typically you will begin by keeping your dog on strict crate rest, only allowing them to go out for potty breaks. A great tool to stabilize the spine while your dog is healing from spinal injury is a back brace. The back brace will keep your dog's spine aligned while they get up to use the bathroom.
Hydrotherapy is another great way to help your pup heal without surgery, the buoyancy of the water will take the pressure off of your dog's spine and relieve your dog's pain while they work on the muscles supporting the injured lumbar region.
Finally, laser therapy has been shown to help heal the muscles around the spinal trauma. The laser can reduce the pain your pup is feeling and has shown to reduce inflammation.