I posted a couple of weeks back that Heffner was diagnosed with an iliopsoas muscle strain. The initial treatment plan was two weeks of no exercise. The week after that he was allowed to go on one five minute walk a day. This walk could increase by 5 min. each week. While it seemed pretty extreme at the time, I was so relieved that it wasn't anything more major that I was happy to just listen and go along with it.
Heffner has already done the two week stint and now we're to the point where he can start getting a 5 min. walk a day. Which, by the way, is really pretty much a quick potty walk. Initially I did a quick internet search on iliopsoas injuries in dogs and what I found was an article on chronic non-responsive iliopsoas pain. Thankfully, right now, that's not Heffner. As far as I can tell, it's an acute thing and this is our first attempt at treating it. Over these past two weeks I did a little bit more digging around trying to find out anything else that I could on the subject. There are some academic veterinary papers out there that I found that I'll have to wait until I head back to work to look more in depth into (we've got a subscription thingy so I can view the full paper instead of just the abstract) the papers. What I've found so far is that Heffner's case is really on the light side of things. Most of the individual instances of this that I've read about are more on the obvious side of things. The dogs experienced pain in their affected leg. There was limping and obvious pain and discomfort. With the agility dogs (which it most commonly occurs in, and not too surprisingly considering how physical the sport is), there was a lot of knocking the bars with the rear feet, slow pace going through the weaves, and when the leg was being manipulated to find out where the discomfort was, there was a lot of trembling and spasming in the leg and specific muscle region. Heffner has had none of these.
He didn't exhibit any of the tell tale signs and symptoms of the problem that I've read about in these other dogs. The only thing off with him was how he was standing. He wasn't limping, but there was a slight hitch in his step. Otherwise, he was totally normal. If anything, the night that I noticed it, in his agility class he had knocked a few bars with his front feet, but that was because of my handling errors. I'm not sure if his lack of knocking bars with his rear feet might have to do with his height? Maybe because he's taller than your average border collie (by just a smidge), knocking bars wouldn't otherwise occur? But he also didn't have any shaking in his rear leg and no spasms when the vet was manipulating it. He showed obvious discomfort, but that's it.
So here we are, we've reached the two week time point and our next visit with the vet isn't until the 13th. And I'm starting to wonder if the initial treatment plan isn't a bit extreme for his case. Not to mention, he completely acts like nothings wrong. And he's off the Rimadyl completely. He's his normal self and back to standing like normal on the rear legs. Yes he's still straight in the rear, but that's a permanent part of his conformation that will probably predispose him to these sorts of things. I know that with two weeks of rest most dogs are going to act completely better. But I'm starting to think that a single 5 min. walk a day is kind of over the top. I'm going to stick with it until we see the vet again and I can ask her all the questions that I've now got. Either way, I won't be putting Heffner back in any agility training for a couple months at least. One of the activities that was mentioned as a causing exercise was jumping, tight turns, and weave poles. I'm even more than happy to only exercise him on leash. That's fine by me. I'm even more than happy to stay away from jogging as well. Long walks on leash are a-OK by me. I can think of all sorts of ways to get both dogs exercised while staying within those parameters. As a matter of fact, long walks was one of the recommended rehabbing exercises recommended on some of the articles that I read. Which also leads me to believe that a single 5 min. walk a day is more restrictive than he needs.
We'll see in a week and a half what the vet says. I'm also really interested in what I can do to prevent this from happening. It seems like plenty of warm up time before runs is a really good precursor. I'm also wondering if doing some ultrasound on the area how ever many times a week might also be beneficial? I know that ultrasound gets used frequently in the healing process for other injuries, so maybe this as well? The benefit for me there is that I have access to an ultrasound machine through work. I just need to get brushed up on how to use it again. I was shown how once, but it's just not something that I ever actually do on my projects. The big bonus for me there would be a better healing dog (and potentially doing this after trials and practice would be good as well for preventative measures) and it's free!:) I'm also thinking that an acupuncture appointment should be in the works. That was also part of some of the treatment plans. And I have been meaning to get him in to see his acupuncturist and get some reflexology done as well. Hmmmmm......so many thoughts!
Does anyone else out there have any experience or words of wisdom?
In other news, tomorrow Bess and I are meeting up with Kennedy and Vegas for some cross country skiing! It should be a blast. And after this past week at work, I really need to get outside, get some fresh air and exercise, and blow off all this pent up ickiness that I've been feeling.
I also am going to have what will hopefully be a fun little challenge that involves getting rid of some of that holiday weight and getting out with the dog(s) more. I'm still figuring things out, but there will be little weekly challenges and I'm hoping that plenty of people will join in because I think it could be really fun!! More details on Monday! (if you've managed to read this far through this long meandering post!LOL)