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Client Case Study: Minnie – Cruciate Ligament Repair

Minnie was, about 10 years old when she had an accident whilst bouncing. To explain, Minnie was a bouncer. A Tigger. She was on springs. She jumped for joy, she jumped for food, she jumped for hugs, she jumped for giddiness, she jumped and jumped and jumped.

  

One day, she bounced a little too hard, a little too high, and she yelped in pain. And from that point on, she wasn’t weight bearing on her rear left leg. We did the usual things such as putting ice on her leg, seeing if some analgesics would help but nothing did. 24 hours later, she was still holding her leg up, and so we took her to the vet.

 

They diagnosed a cruciate ligament tear, and we were told she needed corrective surgery to reattach it. We were offered 2 types of surgery – an older, legacy surgery which involved reattaching the ligament using a strong suture, and a newer technique which involved attaching the ligament to special holes drilled into the bone.

   

The operation was done, and she was partially weight bearing immediately afterwards and became stronger and more confident on that leg day by day on a steady curve of improvement for a good 2-3 months afterward.

 

The setback happened when one of the internal, temporary, sutures dissolved as it was designed to do, leaving her with less support for that leg, and we then saw an immediate return to no weight-bearing at all, with no amount of persuasion able to get her to use that leg after that.

 

The vets had determined that the main suture was still intact, and felt that the problem now was in the realm of physiotherapy and a need for Minnie to develop her strength and stability on that leg.

 

We began a short course of physiotherapy using the vet staff but she continued to be non weight-bearing on the leg for several weeks; we really needed a specialist solution.

 

The vets recommended hydrotherapy, and suggested we contact Burntwood. I made the call and ended up speaking with Jess, who felt that an initial assessment would be useful instead of launching straight into hydrotherapy.

 

During all this time, I should point out that Minnie had adapted well to a 3 legged gait, had resumed jumping on her remaining fully functional back leg.

 

Minnie was not the kind of dog to let something as trivial as a leg to worry her, but of course, since she gave up on using that leg, it had atrophied greatly and was in danger of being unrecoverable so getting her the right kind of physio to avoid other related issues (spinal and hip) was important to us.

 

My wife and I took our 3 legged spring-loaded bundle of joy to Burntwood to meet with Jess, who Minnie immediately took a liking to. This was party due to Jess’ great rapport with her animals, but, knowing Minnie, was probably a swung deal due to the spirally chicken treats Jess kept in a jar that we didn’t have at home!

 

Jess was, however, brilliant. Her knowledge of the injury area, her ability to identify other muscle-related problems as well as form a course of treatment which Minnie would undertake, exercises our girl enjoyed to do, and the magic of laser-joint therapy to reduce inflammation and pain in the joints, all cemented in our minds that we were very lucky to have found her, and if anyone could help our Minnie, it would be Jess.

 

The treatment began with massage (most dogs go to sleep, Minnie did not!) to ease out her rock-hard muscles along her back, and the aforementioned laser therapy.

 

Some simple exercises were designed, demonstrated to my wife and I, and Minnie of course was as good as gold whilst she was there, and did everything Jess asked of her but then flatly refused and required excessive cajoling when we tried to do the same things at home! (We did eventually realise it was due to a severe absence of spirally chicken treats).

 

Minnie steadily improved, and we began to see her “forget” to raise her leg off the ground more and more frequently.

 

Jess was able to work miracles with Minnie, and whilst she was undergoing physio, we also combined this with a daily dose of Metacam to ward off arthritis, and a monthly shot of Librela, which – if your dog is lucky enough to respond – can be very effective at blocking pain from osteoarthritis affected nerves.

 

This combination therapy took about 10 weeks to really kick in, by which time Minnie was mostly walking on all 4 legs (although still showed some weakness on damp days … to which I’m sure many of us can relate!).

  

We had decided to continue Minnie’s treatment for the rest of her life on the basis that :

a.       Her now-higher propensity toward osteoarthritis would be warded off by ongoing physiotherapy

b.       She was fully weight bearing now, and we wanted that to continue

c.       She loved Jess

 

And we did. For months afterwards, Jess was a permanent part of Minnie’s life and she absolutely adored her visits.

 

It’s a bittersweet thing to report, but Minnie passed away just recently due to an unrelated liver condition which the vets were shocked to discover. She had presented no symptoms whatsoever, and had instead just gotten on with her bouncy, fun-filled lifestyle, right up until her final few days (literally, just 3 days) when she went downhill rapidly and pretty much made our decision for us. She passed peacefully in our arms, surrounded by love, and after 12 years with us, is now bouncing with the angels.

 

I have no doubt whatsoever that Minnie’s final year on this planet was all the better for being fully mobile, free of any arthritis pain, happy, and of course, daft as a brush.

 

And we have Jess to thank for this, for helping Minnie remain Minnie.

 

I have no hesitation – none – in recommending Jess to anyone who cares about the mobility and welfare of their fur babies. She’s fabulous.

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