He was big, white, hairy, and super duper excited to see me – jumping up and down on the end of his lead, ignoring his mum’s commands, wanting to jump all over me. I’d seen him when he was a puppy, now he was a year old, and just as crazy. A lovely dog, but a bit of a handful. I waded into his wriggling joy, and grabbed him by the collar. I knew I’d have to ride out the storm of his excitement with my hands on him, because no matter how much he settled down, as soon as I touched him we’d be back to square one. So I patted him, and started some long, slow, deep pressure strokes along his body. He (of course) got even more excited! So I had to go back to my firm grip on his collar, restraining him as gently as possibly, and then going back to slow, deep pressure work as he relaxed a bit. I kept on with this while I talked to his people.
“What’s going on with him then?” I asked.
“He’s been limping on his right front leg for a while now – it comes and goes – you saw when you arrived that when he was still he was holding the paw up a bit? – He does that whenever he’s at rest. But it’s funny- as soon as there’s a ball, or a stick, or a walk to go on, he runs around as if there’s nothing wrong with the leg. We’ve poked and prodded his leg all over, and we simply can’t find a sore spot!”
It took a while, but he settled down a bit. I got him to lie down (which of course got him all excited again, so we had to hold him for a while until he settled again) – and then examined his sore leg, palpating, and flexing and extending each joint in turn. He flinched a little when I strongly flexed his shoulder joint. Then I palpated his neck, and found some very tight, spasmed, painful knots down very low on the same side he was limping. He even let out a yelp with fairly gentle pressure on the worst spots.
“He’s definitely got a sore neck,” I explained… “That can explain the lameness on it’s own, but there is a chance that he may have some sort of developmental joint disease in that right shoulder joint as well. He’s a bit sore when I flex it right up, but then again, the shoulder is so intimately connected to the neck that it may be hurting his neck when I do that.”
“How does a sore neck make him limp?” she asked.
“It can be in a couple of ways,” I told them. “Firstly it can just be from the pain of a pinched nerve.”
“But then why doesn’t he limp when he’s running?”
“The other thing that can happen is that they get hyperaesthesia from nerve root compression – so they get pins and needles in their foot. When he gets excited he ignores it, but when he stops it feels funny, so he doesn’t want to put weight on it, ” I explained. “What I suggest we do is have me do some hands on work with him, a series of sessions every week for 2-4 weeks, and see how he responds. If I release his neck, and he improves, that will tell us what the problem is. If he doesn’t improve, then I’d be concerned that there may be a problem in his shoulder joint, and then I’d refer you off to get some X-rays to see what’s going on in there.”
“Ok – sounds like a plan!” she said, with a smile.
I then had a long, gently wrestling Whole Energy Body Balance (WEBB) session with him. He wriggled a lot of the time, and then really relaxed and let me sink into deep releases at other times. Such a lovely, hyperactive, lively big puppy! By the end of the session he was visibly a little bit better with his limp. I left him with strict instructions for no ball playing, and made an appointment to see him next week. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds…