Turf

Pets Age: 
3 year old
Pet Type: 
Male, Border Collie
Problem: 
Strain of the iliopsoas muscle
Treatment: 
Acupuncture, physiotherapy, and ultrasound

Turf first presented at the SMART Clinic in July 2011. Although he had competed successfully in 2010, his performance had deteriorated and subsequently he started to limp on both hind legs. Jayne, his owner, had developed a good working relationship with Turf since he was a pup and recognised immediately that something was wrong, despite the fact that he remained extremely keen to work. A visit to her local veterinary surgeon failed to identify the source of his lameness and he responded poorly to the conventional remedy of rest and pain killing medication. While researching potential avenues of treatment on the internet, Jayne stumbled across the SMART Clinic.

At Turf’s initial examination he appeared lame on both hind legs. His movements in general were stiff and awkward and gave no indication of the athlete that he had proved himself to be. He was unable to move in a straight line, tending to drift sideways in a crab-like fashion, and a visible increase in his level of discomfort was evident when he was moved in a circle. Although a lovely dog by nature, Jayne had noticed a marked deterioration in his temperament as he was forced to watch the other dogs go out to work every day while he was left behind.

Following a detailed clinical examination, Turf was diagnosed with a strain of the iliopsoas muscle. This muscle is encountered deep within the back and, through connecting the femur or the thigh bone to the pelvis and back bone, acts as one of the flexors of the hip. This muscle is relatively commonly injured in the working dog. Clinically these dogs often present in a very similar manner to Turf. Initially they exhibit an intermittent lameness which is always worse after exercise. Gradually the lameness becomes more and more persistent as their lower back becomes stiffer and stiffer and they lose the ability to lift the back leg forward.

Turf was treated with a combination of acupuncture, physiotherapy, therapeutic ultrasound and both ground and water treadmill work. Jayne dedicated hours each week to his home exercise programme and by late October 2011, Turf was well on the road to recovery. In fact he flew through the first three stages of his rehabilitation programme and initially appeared to be coping well with the final stage where his normal work was re-introduced.

Unfortunately, in early November, Turf started to hop intermittently after exercise on the right hind leg. Further investigation suggested that he had torn the Cranial Cruciate Ligament, a vitally important structure which provides stability to the stifle or knee joint. Such an injury can end the career of any athlete, human or canine if treated incorrectly and therefore it was advised that Turf be referred for specialist treatment at Weighbridge Referral Centre. The Centre is run by Steve Butterworth, one of the few recognised specialists in the field of veterinary orthopaedics in the country.

In late December 2012, Turf underwent major surgery on his right knee. This procedure is commonly known as a TPLO or a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. In simple terms this means that the tibia or shin bone was cut and the angle of Turf’s tibial plateau changed. This in turn helps prevent the femur from rolling back on the tibia and helps stabilize the knee in the absence of a functioning cranial cruciate ligament.

Turf’s rehabilitation started even before he was off the operating table. Ice was applied to the surgical site to try and reduce the intensity of the inflammatory process and Comfrey ointment was also applied to promote healing within the bone. The herb Comfrey was once commonly known as “Bone Knit” and its healing powers have been known for centuries. It is frequently used at the clinic to help with tissue healing. Twice daily ultrasound was also applied to the surgical site. The benefit of using high frequency sound waves to promote healing within bone has been recently proven scientifically at Glasgow University. In the early stages after his surgery Turf was also treated with twice weekly acupuncture and Jayne was in charge of his gentle but frequent home exercise regime, which is often referred to at the clinic as pilates for dogs.

Turf made an excellent recovery as is clear from the video.

Video of Turf walking.

Two months after surgery showed no evidence of lameness at all. At this point our job and Jane’s job got even harder as we faced the challenge of getting Turf fit for the National Sheepdog Championships. All was going well and Turf was back competing by June. Unfortunately, no one could have predicted the rain of biblical proportions that have deluged us over the summer. Sensibly, Jane decided that conditions underfoot were so poor that she did not want to jeopardize all her hard work by competing Turf, though I am not sure that he would agree. I am certain however that he will be back in contention in 2013.