I can walk again!

Shyla Lexo, a 10 year old Labrador Retriever Mix, stands stoically during her acupuncture treatment

 

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

~Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

When Shyla came to us in March 2011, the 10 year old spayed female Lab mix had severe pain in her front right leg and she was knuckling her hind end.  When she began limping, her owner took her to their original vet, where she spent several days undergoing steroid therapy, pain management, and preliminary diagnostics.  During her stay there, she got progressively worse, becoming lethargic and unable to walk or sit up.  The doctors recommended euthanasia, but Shyla’s family was not ready to give up on her yet.  A family friend recommended Dr. Dusza, and they set up a holistic consult with her right away.

When she arrived at the Lancaster Small Animal Hospital she was ataxic (loss of muscle coordination leading to a jerky, unsteady walk) and she was unable to bear weight without assistance.  While her reflexes were very slow and unsteady, she was able to position herself while lying down.  We admitted her to the hospital for IV fluids, x-rays, and supportive care such as steroids, pain control, and muscle relaxers.  X-rays showed that she had narrowed spaces in between the discs of her spine, causing severe pain and making it difficult for her brain to transmit signals to her limbs.  That day, Shyla had her first acupuncture treatment followed her first massage with Hilary, after which she was able to get up and stand on her own!

The following day, we repeated her Acupuncture and started her on several Chinese herbs to help with stagnation along the spine and for pain control.  We continued acupuncture and massage therapy daily in combination with the herbs, steroids, muscle relaxers.  Several days into her stay we were able to decrease her steroid dose to half of what she started on, and she continued to improve.  The daily acupuncture and massage increased the range of motion for all 4 limbs, improved her coordination, and relieved her pain.  After spending 5 days with us undergoing treatment, Shyla was able to go home!  Once returning home, her owner had strict instructions to use a harness only (no collar as that can pull on the neck and spine) and her only exercise was to be quiet and slow leash walks for the next month.  Shyla was to continue the herbs and medications until her follow-up acupuncture in 2 weeks.

At her 2 week recheck, Shyla was very stable and recovering well!  We repeated her acupuncture and scheduled a recheck and acupuncture for the following week.  At that appointment, we  decreased the dose of  her muscle relaxer  and began the slow process of weaning her off of the steroid.  One week later, her owner reported that Shyla wanted to get back to her normal activities!  She was much more energetic, and her owner wondered if she could be allowed to be a little more active.  Dr. Dusza gave the go-ahead for her to use the stairs on a harness.  We further decreased her steroid dose and discontinued the muscle relaxer all together while continuing the Chinese herbs.   We began spacing her acupuncture treatments out a little more and she continued to improve.

By the end of April, Shyla could easily get up from lying down and her limp was gone!  By mid-May her steroid dose was further deceased to once every 4 days.  She was doing so well that we began spacing her acupuncture treatments out to once every 4 weeks.  By early June, she was off of the steroid all together and Dr. Dusza determined that her neuropathy had completely resolved!  Today Shyla continues monthly acupuncture treatments as well as Chinese herbs and she is doing very well.  She’s a happy, healthy 11 year old girl who can still run and play in the outdoors she loves so much.