Get Your Dog Care Questions Answered by Experts
Cervical disk surgery is a trickier proposition than decompressive surgery in the thoracic and lumbar spines. First off, because the neck supports the head, the neck generally has more planes of motion and has less muscle support than other regions of the spine, surgery is more painful and the recovery is longer and more fraught with complications. Also, the respiratory center reside in the cervical spinal cord, damage to which can lead to respiratory arrest, the mother of all complications. All this considered, I understand your surgeon's conservative approach.
Knowing for certain from the CT scan that there are other partially herniated cervical disks, there is risk for recurrence of pain and neurological dysfunction. However, even a board certified neurologist would have difficulty giving you a precise percentage of the possibility of recurrence of clinical signs of disease. Looking at other case precedence, I would estimate about a 30% chance given that there are two adjacent disks involved.
That stated, there are allot of factors that go into what realistically may occur with each individual patient.
1.) How successfully will the patient scarred down ans stabilize the region post-operatively? This would be a function of each individual patient's healing capability.
2.) Are there mitigating factors that can affect the musculoskeletal system, such as endocrine disease (diabetes, hypothyroidism)?
3.) Is the patient obese?
4.) Does the patient have an active lifestyle, prone to short, unpredictable bursts of activity that may lead to re-injury, or is the patient fairly calm?
For the most part, aside from obesity and/or dealing with underlying endocrine disease if present, for the post part, most of these factors are beyond your control.
However, there are many other things that you can do that CAN effectively reduce the possibility of recurrence. I would find a general veterinarian in your area that offers rehabilitation therapy that involves a combination of alternative and nutraceutical modalities. These modalities have been largely proven at the veterinary university and teaching hospital level and are a very integral component to how we practice medicine in my practice.
In fact, since integrating the techniques that I will be outlining below, I have seen a precipitous drop in intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) cases - even ones with neurological dysfunction - that I have had to refer for surgery.
Specifically, I treat IVDD cases with a combination of the following:
1.) Low level 4B therapy laser.
3.) Injections with anti-inflammatory/connective tissue stabilizing poly glycated glycosaminioglycan (Adequan).
4.) Musculoskeletal health nutritionally balanced diet that is high in glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and MSM. My favorite diet is prescription Hills J/D.
The rehab protocol consists of 6 treatment over 3 weeks in what is called the induction phase. Each treatment consists of a laser session and acupuncture at the direct site of injury, then a subcutaneous injection of Adequan (goes under the skin like a vaccine). I generally do 3 treatments week one, 2 treatments week 2, one treatment week 3; then maintain the patient on a booster treatment once monthly...knowing those disks are chronic, I would continue the monthly phase indefinitely.
To learn more about how therapy laser, acupuncture, and neutraceutical therapy work, refer to the services page of my hospital's website:
If it already has not been done, I would also run general wellness panel to rule out disease - namely endocrine disease - that may adverse effect the musculoskeletal system. Hypothyroidism is especially common in Beagles.
Thanks for checking. The dog and I are on vacation; when I get back I am going to follow through with your suggestions. My research tells me you are "right on."
She is doing well. The only strange thing is how she shakes her head more often side-to-side like she is drying off. Maybe 12-20 times a day for brief interludes (2 seconds at a shot). My guess is something just feels different.