A New Journey: Conservative Care Treatment for Gibson's Cruciate Tear
Shortly before Gibson's birthday, my beautiful boy and I have embarked upon a new journey. Right around Christmas, he had started to limp from what we initially thought was a soft tissue injury from being active now that his Epi-meds were reduced (see story on Bromide toxicity incident). He soon started favoring the leg and then couldn't put any weight on it at all. He began to work around it and even was able to run as a tripawd, with the injured paw held up and close to his body. We did an Xray to rule out any hip or other issues...but he could not use his leg. He went on an anti-inflammatory for a week with continued in-home K-Laser treatments (we really do have the best vet team!) However, even after receiving a number of treatments, it didn't seem to get any better indicating that the injury is different than what we first suspected. One of my wonderful vet's came to do a house call and upon examing Gibson, and with his Xrays, determined he had a cruciate ligament tear. Flashbacks of last summer with our sweet Chloe having blown out both of her back CCLs and requiring an emergency double bilateral imbrication surgery came flooding into my mind...only with Gibson being an Epi-Husky, surgery is always a big concern. After discussion with my vet, we agreed to take the conservative care treatment route with Gibson and now focus his laser treatments on the bad leg, along with having him fitted with a custom Woundwear A-Trac Dynamic Brace and Harness Set (that was recommended to me by fellow Epi-dog Tundra's hu-dad in British Columbia). He had used the brace and harness on his late Epi-Husky and found it gave her much more freedom. So, I researched the link and info he sent me, and thought it was a great idea for Gibson. With assistance from my vet staff, Gib was measured and they ordered the brace harness from Woundwear.
There are plastic rods in the brace, that once full weight is placed on the leg, can we switched out to a more flexible rod. There is a schedule of walking and adding time and incline over a period of time to help with the recovery. The nice thing about this A-Trac stability harness is that it can be an option for conservative treatments, which is what we are doing with Gibson - or, it can be used as post-operative care for CCL surgery. It's a great option I would highly recommend researching and discussing with your veterinarian to see if it's viable for your dog with CCL injuries. I am very thankful Tundra's dad suggested it to me, and I am always on the look-out for alternative and holistic treatments with an Epi-Husky. Surgery is always an option...but if I can help him heal and stay healthy by going a different route, then that's what I'd like to try. So our course of treatment at this time is a combination of targeted weekly K-Laser treatments and the Woundwear A-Trac Stability Brace and Harness.
I also did some research on natural anti-inflammatories as most medicinal ones filter through the liver, and with Gibson already being on Potassium Bromide and Phenobarbital, with the Pheno already going through is liver (and I have him on the supplement Milk Thistle to aid in cleansing the liver of the Pheno), I was really hoping for a more natural way to administer anti-inflams so as not to overtax his liver. After much research and conversation with my vet, Gibson was placed on one that my vet and I mutually agreed upon.
I came across this quote while we went through Choe's injury, surgery, and follow-up rehab, and just wanted to share it once again, this time for Gibson and anyone else who is going through a particularly trying or uncertain time:
So with gradual steps in this brace and with rest, leash walks, natural anti-inflams, and laser therapy, the hope is that he will regain strength in his leg as scar tissue forms. After about a 12-week period the brace can be removed and put on just during walks for another two to three months. For now, it's a 24/7 wear, and with one full week into Gibson's conservative treatment, he really is enjoying his rehab walks - especially as we stroll through some of the leftover snow. The Woundwear A-Trac Stability Brace and Harness is really helping to support his leg, and in conjunction with his weekly cold laser treatments to help his body heal at a cellular level (including speeding up healing time, reducing inflammation and pain), I'm hoping I can change out the rods soon to the flex rods in his brace - as soon as he can put full weight on his bad cruciate leg. Right now he does put "tippy-toe" weight on the leg, and Gib's such a trooper...so we're feeling really hopeful. :-)
It's only been just one week since he's been in the brace harness set, and several weeks on the natural anti-inflams. As with anything, time will tell...but I do see some of his spark and energy coming back...the hardest part is keeping him on rest! I'm also keeping his diet in check and while he trimmed down from 116 pounds from two years ago (the weight gain was a result of the Epi-meds) to his current 99.1 pounds, I'm hoping to get another four pounds off to get to the magical number 95 so it's less weight on his bad leg, which can only help him. In the meantime, I keep talking to him and telling him how proud I am of him. I also keep checking the harness (so it doesn't cause a rub burn or get too lose) and give him lots of kisses and rubs and let him know every day that he's strong and such a good boy and how proud I am of him..and hopefully, by June, he'll be back on his way to freedom and playing with the pack family once again!