Slipped Disc

The spine is made up of bony segments called vertebrae. The discs are located between the vertebrae and serve as shock absorbers for the spinal column. The normal disc is a firm, jelly-like structure.

When a disc becomes diseased, either through a gradual deterioration (birth defect) or injury, the weakened structure starts to "slip" out of place. It may also completely rupture and the resulting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves causes pain, incoordination, weakness or paralysis.

Disc disease in the neck area produces a "pinched-nerve" with great pain and front leg lameness. Trouble in the back region may cause complete paralysis of the rear legs. The patient may also be unable to control bowels or bladder. Medical treatment for this problem may relieve pain and inflammation, but often surgery is necessary to relieve pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. This is critically important to stop further damage.

Physical examination, x-ray pictures and nerve tests will help the doctor determine the best course of treatment for your pet.  If medical management is recommended, it may include any or all of the following:

  1. Absolute rest ---------- confinement at home with medication
  2. Hospitalization -------- when rest at home is impractical or strong medication is necessary
  3. Acupuncture therapy - primarily for chronic pain conditions that have not responded to other                   medications

Remember, once this problem has occurred, it could happen again. Prevention of future episodes is an equally important goal. Keeping your dog's weight under control and discouraging jumping are critical. Letting the dog continue to sleep on the bed is common cause of recurrent problems.
The jump off of the bed is the reason!

Treatment of the “Slipped Disc”

Severity Class




Your pet is painful, but able to walk

Rest, pain medication and weight reduction


Your pet is painful and walks very wobbly.

Rest (often in the hospital), pain medication and weight reduction


Your pet is painful and partially paralyzed. They are barely able to support their own weight

Absolute rest (best in the hospital), pain medication, sedation and weight reduction. Surgery occasionally is recommended.


Your pet is painful and unable to walk on the affected legs.

Surgery is recommended to remove the disc, stop the pressure and prevent further damage.


Your pet is completely paralyzed and the legs are numb.

Surgery is recommended to alleviate the severe spinal cord pressure.


Your pet is paralyzed and in severe pain

Euthanasia due to irrepairable cord bleeding


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