Spondylosis Deformans

A drawing showing different grades of spondylosis deformans

A drawing showing different grades of spondylosis deformans

Spondylosis Deformans is a condition characterized by the presence of bony spurs (osteophytes) along the edges of the spine. These “spurs” may develop in one site or they may be in several locations. They can build a bridge between vertebras and can make your pet appear very stiff.

The most common places for spondylosis deformans can be either in the thoracic region (chest), at the junction between the last rib and the lower back, in the lumbar (lower back) region or even at the lumbosacral region (around the hips and back legs).

The exact cause of spondylosis deformans is unknown but there are theories associated with trauma, inheritance, and degenerative disease of the discs. The bone spurs are the spine trying to stabilize itself.

No certain breed of dog is found to be more prevalent but it does seem to be more common in large breed dogs, usually middle-aged to older and can be found in cats also.

Clinical signs of this condition can include stiffness, lameness, pain, neurologic signs or your pet may be asymptomatic.

Diagnosis is usually found through physical exam, history, and radiographs. Other diseases such as cancer, Diskospondylitis, fracture or luxation can also cause bone spurs or deformities. Myelograms (dye placed in the spinal canal), CT or MRI may be recommended to be sure of the diagnosis.

Treatment usually depends upon the pet – are they painful, are they symptomatic, do they have any lameness? If your pet is asymptomatic, then keeping him flexible and strong is the best medicine and this is usually done through different types of physical therapy and exercise.

If your pet is painful, then NSAIDs are usually the first treatment of choice and once the pain has been addressed then again, physical therapy and exercise are recommended.

Therapeutic laser has been very helpful for these pets in my opinion. We have relieved the pain and allowed the pet to function as a normal pet for longer periods of time. If your pet should have spinal cord compression due to spondylosis deformans then surgery is recommended.

Spondylosis deformans can limit your pet’s movement but with weight control, pain management and exercise your pet can live an active life.

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