Zola Shearing

Pets Age: 
4 year old 4 months
Pet Type: 
Female Neutered, Greyhound

At the time of writing, Zola is a 4 year 4 month old, female neutered, Greyhound. She started attending the Smart Clinic in October 2013 and has had 10 appointments over 2.5 months to date.Her presenting sign was that she showed an on-going low grade left fore lameness. This had been un-responsive to Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment (Meloxicam). The lameness first materialised in June 2013 following a very active beach holiday and may have coincided with a fall on the beach which included an awkward landing. Exercise had been restricted and only lead-walking was taking place as anything more challenging would exacerbate the left fore lameness.

On first presentation to the Smart Clinic it was initially noted on postural assessment that she was not fully weight bearing through the right hind. On gait evaluation, circumduction and abduction of the right hind was also noted along with shortening in the caudal phase of the stride of the left fore. Both left fore and right hind lameness’s could be graded at 1/10. The thoracolumbar spine was moving laterally in a more exaggerated fashion to the right. Her gait pattern was stilted in general with little flexion and extension occurring about shoulders, hips and stifles. When walking in a circle in either direction, flexibility at the cervico-thoracic junction was poor.

On initial palpation discomfort was noted on palpation of the external border of the intervertebral foramen at the level of C6-7 on both sides. Radiating nerve root pain was detected on palpation of the groove between the long and lateral heads of the triceps bilaterally. She was reluctant to flex her neck to the right. Both shoulders were restricted in extension. Left elbow extension was resented and left elbow effusion was present. There was some discomfort on tensioning of the left biceps tendon. The longissimus lumborum muscle showed marked hyperaesthesia and allodynia along its length particularly on the left. The right hind was atrophied and right sciatica was present. Passive flexion of both stifles was limited and there was a degree of remodelling and buttress affecting the right stifle.

It seemed that the abnormal gait pattern seen by Zola’s owner s over the summer had been caused by a combination of chronic overloading of the left fore from offloading the right hind and from the whip-lash type injury sustained on holiday. A rehabilitation programme was commenced. Techniques included physiotherapy exercises. The initial aim was to improve proprioception and neuromotor communication. With time the focus changed to improved postural muscle recruitment when standing, strength-building and developing more sustainable neuromotor recruitment patterns globally. Techniques also included aquatic treadmill walking, acupuncture, chiropractic techniques, soft tissue work, heat therapy and therapeutic ultrasound application to the biceps tendon.

At Zola’s third appointment which was three weeks after starting treatment no left fore lameness was detected at home or on gait evaluation. There continued to be a degree of right hind circumduction but this was less dramatic. Spinal flexibility in movement and in standing had improved. The tension in the left biceps had started to ease along with the dorsal cervical discomfort. The on-going area of high muscle tone was the longissimus lumborum at the level of L5-L7. There continued to be a degree of right hind sciatica although this had decreased in intensity.

After another two weeks and a further two appointments, the right hind abduction was no longer observed on a straight line but was noted at a marginal level on a circle to the left. Right hind static weight bearing had improved. Fluidity and range of shoulder and hip extension had improved. She tolerated a left biceps stretch well. Epaxial muscle tension between T10-L7 was present but had decreased further in intensity. No right hind sciatica was detected and there had been a marked improvement in in right hind muscle mass. There was an ongoing restriction to passive stifle flexion particularly on the right. At this stage a four week course of Cartrophen was instigated to address cartilaginous ‘wear and tear’ of the stifles.

At the stage of writing which is early January 2014, Zola’s attitude towards exercise has improved. She is brighter in herself. Her endurance has improved dramatically. We have started to gradually reintroduce off-lead walking (and running!) with little in the way of ill-effects.  Her treatment interval is now three weeks and this will most likely reduce further at her next visit. She is a good example of how our integrated, whole-animal approach at the SMART Clinic can help with more obscure ‘niggling’ lameness.