Conservative vs. Surgery
Be aware of the two IVDD disc disease treatments. Learn at what point conservative treatment of meds and rest OR a surgery could be considered.
The information on this page was reviewed for correct medical
information by Dr. Isaacs, DVM, ACVIM (Neurology)
JUMP to comparison of the two IVDD disc disease treatments
When surgery is a consideration
- ▪️If your dog can’t walk OR with STRICT crate rest, neurological functions worsen and are lost (leg movement and bladder control).
- ▪️STRICT crate rest is employed and after several attempts to go off of the anti-inflammatory, pain returns.
- ▪️If 100% STRICT crate rest has been employed and pain medications have been adjusted (dose, frequency, and mix of pain relievers), but the pain can’t be brought under control.
- ▪️If a dog is experiencing similar signs of neck or back pain, or mild neurological deficits for the 3rd or 4th time, meaning it may be the same disc is involved.
Monitoring Neuro Functions
As damage to the spinal cord increases, there is a predictable step-wise deterioration of functions during a current disc disease episode. When nerve healing begins, often the reverse order of healing takes place.
- ▪️Pain caused by the tearing disc and inflammation in the spinal cord
- ▪️Wobbly walking, legs crossing
- ▪️Nails scuffing floor
- ▪️Paws knuckle
- ▪️Legs do not work (paralysis, dog is “down”)
- ▪️Bladder control is lost
- ▪️Tail wagging with joy is lost
- ▪️Deep pain sensation, the last neuro function, is lost
IVDD disc disease treatments – Conservative or a Surgery?
After a dog is paralyzed, the existence of deep pain sensation (“DPS”) indicates that surgery could STILL be successful. That window of time is 12-24 hours from losing DPS. Even after that window of time, surgery is often successful. The spinal cord is very fragile; the more hours after the window, the less chance of a complete recovery.
Unfortunately general vets do not see enough cases of IVDD daily. It takes practice to become really proficient in giving a neuro exam and correctly interpreting what is observed. Therefore precious time can be lost in wrongly identifying DPS. Only take the word of a board certified neuro (ACVIM) or ortho (ACVS) about DPS.