While I don’t want to be totally one dimensional by only writing about Belle, I do appreciate that there are those among you who would like to know what the present situation is. So for those who are interested, here’s a more detailed update.
A couple of weeks ago I began to be concerned that she wasn’t putting any weight on her broken leg. Granted it was still fairly soon after the operation and the two major incisions had not yet healed, but I couldn’t help but think that something was wrong. I brought this up with my local vet each time I took Belle in for an anti arthritis shots, but I obviously wasn’t firm enough in voicing my concern, as the vet offered no advice other than it must still be sore. Finally after bringing it up on three separate occasions, she suggested that I take her back to the vet who did the operation (70 miles away). So I made an appointment to see him in four days time.
Before he examined her, he got me do walk her around on a lead so that he could see what the deal was, and immediately said that it may already be a lost cause, and that he had told me that I needed to do regular physio therapy on her. WTF was he talking about?! Yes he did say that I needed to bend her leg every day, but he didn’t say that if I didn’t do it, she could develop a Volkmann contraction which would ultimately render her leg useless. I had tried to do it a couple of times, but every time I did, the staples would pop open, plus I was scared that I would damage the repair job at the knee (I had visions of re-breaking the leg by pushing too hard), additionally, she was in obvious distress whenever I tried, so I just left her alone.
Apparently these contractions can happen in a couple of days on young dogs (something else I found out later), so it’s critical to make sure the joint can bend. Although in truth, I don’t believe I ever felt the knee bend, as for the first week the leg was in a bandage, and the second week the incisions were still bleeding so I couldn’t really do much. By the time the wounds had sealed, the quadricep had already lost all elasticity. If you aren’t familiar with any of this, it’s becasue the scar tissue overwhelms the muscle tissue. And if you haven’t caught on yet, this condition is a result of the operation – not the accident!
If the leg never regains any function, then the recommended course of action is amputation, which is why I said last week that she may lose her leg, it has nothing to do with an infection. So there you have it, the reason I was so bummed last week. However over the past week and a half I’ve read all the literature, spoken to several vets (as well as MDW who is an OT) and am now convinced that this happened through no fault of mine, and while that doesn’t make the situation any better, it does alleviate the sense of guilt I was feeling.
So, where are we now? After a week and a half of physio sessions five times a day, and crating her for the periods in between, I’ve managed to get about 15 – 20 degrees range of motion in her knee, which isn’t much but it’s better than nothing, and I have managed to prevent the leg from seizing up completely. She does occasionally put some weight on it, but not enough for me to think it’s the beginning of the healing process, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Filed under: Belle's misadventures |