Ilio Whatsus?!

This is my rendition of the ilio psoas

This is my rendition of the ilio psoas

We have a lot of pets in the area competing in agility, obedience, hunt, field, along with a ton of other athletic events as well as older pets who suddenly come up lame and we can’t figure out why.

Ilio Psoas is a combination of two muscles – the Psoas Major and the Iliacus. The muscles begin under the lumbar (lower back) spine and from the underside of the pelvis; they come together on the femur or thigh bone. This muscle helps with flexing the hip, extending the lower back and with hip/pelvic movement.

Why is this muscle so important? This muscle helps with propulsion and activities such as running, jumping, turning and working rely on this combination of muscles working properly. The Ilio Psoas is one of those pesky core muscles we keep harping about to you.

Proper maintenance of this muscle includes core strengthening, warm ups and cool downs.

How does your dog hurt his Ilio Psoas? He can injure the muscle by just playing and carrying on but we tend to see it injured by over extending when jumping, repetitive activities such as fetch or Frisbee, slipping on the flooring, etc. general ways in which we all can pull a groin muscle.

A lot of dogs will pull up lame at an event and then once they get home appear normal – this can happen with small injuries but then the body begins its amazing ability to compensate and before you know it, you have a full blown problem.

Your dog can give a lot of subtle hints that something may be wrong such as a curved back, avoiding weave poles, not wanting to jump, turning just one way instead of both ways – things that most of us think are training issues may be actually compensation for pain.

Your pet does not have to be an athlete to hurt his ilio – he can be older and slip, a weekend warrior, or just constant wear and tear.

Your veterinarian will diagnose ilio psoas by doing an examination, palpating the area, a gait analysis and possibly range of motion or stretching. Soft tissue diagnosis are difficult to find so they may also want to take radiographs (x-rays) to make sure there is a fracture, arthritis or a tumor. Your veterinarian may also want to run a tick panel especially if you live in areas that have a lot of ticks.

Your pet can be predisposed to ilio psoas if they have any of the following conditions:

  • Hip dysplasia or arthritis of the hips
  • Cruciate problems (even if it is in the past)
  • Long backed dogs
  • Dogs with weak cores (especially lower back and pelvic region)
  • Young dogs training too early
  • Repetitive motion in dogs (too many jumps)

Once your veterinarian diagnoses ilio psoas he may prescribe pain meds such as NSAIDs along with rest. Other treatments would include laser therapy, cryotherapy (ice in the first 3-4 days), thermotherapy (heat after 72 hours), therapeutic ultrasound and slow increases in exercise.

If you are treating your pet for ilio psoas it is vital that in the first few weeks that he avoids any explosive or powerful movements such as running or jumping; they should be leash walked on a short leash and a flat surface. Three ten minute walks a day would be okay but you must comply with the rest portion.

Weight shifting is one of the exercises that your rehabilitation veterinarian would recommend along with hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is recommended because it allows the hip to extend and decreases the stress on the joints plus the heat of the water is helpful.

Swimming should be avoided until the area is almost completely healed along with diving or jumping into the water.

Balance and ball work are essential to the healing process so you should speak with your rehabilitation veterinarian for their recommendations on exercises.

Your pet is going to take at least 4-6 weeks for them to recover but most take almost 12-16 weeks for full recovery so the key is to be slow and steady. It is difficult to wait patiently that long but unfortunately if you return your pet too quickly then you may end up with a bigger injury that could take much longer to heal, if ever.

The key to any recovery is slow and steady. Make sure that you are doing your range of motion exercises, good warm up and a good cool down to keep any problems from developing.

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