Lumbosacral Disease (Cauda Equina, Lumbosacral Stenosis)

Lumbosacral Disease

Synonyms:

LS disease

Cauda equina

Lumbosacral stenosis

What is LS Disease?

Lumbosacral disease is a syndrome in dogs that results in compression of nerve roots as they pass from the lower spine to the hind limbs and the base of the tail.  Contributing factors include: spinal instability, disc disease, or spinal arthritis.

Typical patient:

Affected dogs are usually large-breed dogs, with German shepherds as the most commonly affected breed.  Other commonly affected breeds are the Labrador, boxer, and golden retriever.

Dogs are typically 6-7 years old when signs are first noted.

Signs:

  • The most common sign is lower back pain.
  • Change in posture, usually with a crouched stance.
  • Decreased interest in exercise, or discomfort after exercise.
  • Intermittent hind leg lameness.
  • Difficulty rising from a sit.
  • Low tail carriage or decreased tail wagging.
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping into the car.
  • Weakness in the hind limbs, which may appear as incoordination or toe-dragging.
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence, which is often irreversible.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis can sometimes be made with radiographs (x-rays), but often requires advanced imaging such as MRI.

Treatment

Some dogs require surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve roots and to stabilize the lumbosacral joint.

If surgery is not necessary, some dogs will improve with exercise restriction and medications to address pain and inflammation.  Exercise restriction is usually recommended for a minimum of 4-6 weeks.  Relapses often occur when the dog resumes exercise.

Rehabilitation: The goal of rehabilitation is to help manage pain and maintain strength.

  • Inflammation of the nerve roots can be addressed with Laser.  Laser has also been shown to help repair the nerves themselves.
  • Myofascial trigger points are painful knots in the muscles that develop secondary to changes in posture.  These respond to Laser, manual therapy, and dry needling.
  • Therapeutic exercises have the goals of maintaining strength and increasing function while also being low impact.  These may include balance exercises, hydrotherapy, or a home exercise program.

 

 

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