What Are the Treatments for Spinal Lesions in Dogs?

Many spinal lesion conditions, such as degenerative myelopathy, contribute to hind limb paralysis.
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Spinal lesions are any abnormal tissue growth along the spine. In dogs, these lesions can arise from a variety of conditions, including spondylosis deformans and spinal tumors. Treatments for spinal lesions depend on the originating cause and the location of the lesions. Some of these conditions do not have specific treatments to remove the lesions leaving options to focus on treating symptoms.

Spondylosis Deformans

Spondylosis deformans is a condition that causes bony spurs, or osteophytes, to develop along the vertebral bones. The most common locations of these spinal lesions are in the chest, lower back and near the hips and back legs. Often, these spurs form a bridge and connect vertebral bones. In many cases, these spurs cause no symptoms and many dogs live without needing treatment. In cases where the spurs cause mild pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, provide relief. Maintaining a healthy weight and a regular exercise program is essential. In rare cases of spinal cord compression, surgery may be necessary to remove the spurs.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy causes lesions in the white matter of the spinal cord. This condition typically affects German shepherds, corgis, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, Irish setters, boxers and collies. Symptoms begin with muscle loss and weakness, progressing to full or partial paralysis. The cause is unknown and there is no effective treatment. Drugs such as epsilon aminocaproic acid and prednisone can help to slow the progression in some cases.

Schiff-Sherrington Phenomenon

Schiff-Sherrington phenomenon occurs when a spinal lesion occurs in the second lumbar vertebrae and typically occurs after a traumatic injury or due to intervertebral disk disease. Symptoms include difficulty walking, unusual gait, forelimb extension and hind limb paralysis. Treatment of this condition focuses on spinal repair through surgical intervention.

Spinal Cord Tumors

Various tumors can affect the spinal cord. These tumors include peripheral nerve sheath tumors, nephroblastomas, spinal meningiomas and spinal lymphosarcomas. Treatment for spinal tumors depends on the type of tumor and the location. Treatment options include surgical removal, chemotherapy and radiation.