[UPDATED: Friday, February 15, 2008 at 9:24:01 AM]
My black Lab, Nikki, has been suffering from rear knee problems since she was about 18 months old (she just turned 4 last month.) She's ruptured the canine cruciate ligaments in both her hind leg. That's like us having torn ACLs in both knees. While she's had the problems for a while, she normally gets by without too much problem—most people would have no clue she had problems with both her rear legs. For the most part, we had been able to manage the discomfort using Deramaxx (which is a joint supplement.)
Last Thursday I noticed she was having a bad day, I could tell her knees were bothering her because she was limping and trying to avoid putting weight on them. She just progressively started getting worse over the weekend. She was barely moving and was no where near her normal energetic self.
On Sunday my wife noticed she was also not putting weight on her front left leg—which she was also having uncontrollable spasms that lasted for over 24 hours (massaging the leg would give temporary relief.)
On Monday morning I took her to the vet to see what we could do to relief her of the pain a little and to get a diagnoses on the front leg. The vet determined she either has a muscle or ligament injury that's either a sprain or a strain (without an MRI it would be impossible to know.) The vet also felt that Nikki has probably ruptured her MCL as well as her CaCL.
We've known that the knee problems would degenerate over time, but we were hoping it wouldn't get this bad. No one wants to see their dog in constant pain. It was quite clear to us that Nikki needed surgery if she was to have any type of quality of life.
Last year I had taken her to an orthopedic surgeon for Xrays and a consultation, so we had already done the research. However, the expense is very high and having both knees operated on was something I wanted to avoid for her if it was at all possible.
Immediately after coming home from the vet, I called MedVets to see if I could schedule the bilateral TTA (tibial tuberosity advancement) and how soon it could be done. Much to my surprise, they told us they could get her in today.
So, this morning we packed Nikki up and drove her to the hospital for her operations. She'll be at the hospital for the next 24-48 hours. Because their operating on both knees, they may keep her 48 hours after the surgery.
The next 6 weeks will be rough for her. She'll basically be crated 24/7—as we need to severely limit her physical activity. I'm trying to look to the positives though. We haven't been able to play fetch with her or really let her run wild for a good 18-24 months because of her knee problems. She'd run around the backyard some, but nothing like when I can play with her. So hopefully come this Summer she be back and healthy enough to enjoy all the activities Labs love to do.
2:02:19 PM - The surgeon (Dr. Barnhart) who performed the surgery just called us a few minutes ago and let us know that Nikki's out of surgery and in recovery. The operation went well. The CaCL's in both knees where indeed torn and the meniscus (MCL) in here left rear knee was torn too. I'm not sure when she'll come home yet, but I suspect it won't be until Thursday.
3:27:59 PM - I just got off the phone with the assistant who has been taking care of Nikki. She's been walking around putting weight on all fours and has even been able to squat to urinate without the need of any assistance. She's got a healthy appetite and lots of energy—which is normal for her. The assistance was a little worried about how she was sitting though, because she was sitting on her back with her hind legs in the air. The thing is, that's how she always sits. It sounds as if they're going to keep her again tonight. As much as Jenn & I want to see her, I'm more concerned with her healthy and speedy recovery. I think the more time she has to recoup there, the better it'll be for her.
9:24:36 AM - We picked up Nikki last night around 6pm. She seems to be doing pretty well. While she's a bit wobbly, she's moving around without too much difficulty. I'm having a really hard time getting the hang of using the sling they gave us to help support her. If it weren't for the ice, I'm sure we'd need the sling because she didn't need it at the Vets. However, we got a snow/ice storm on Tuesday and there's a good 1/2 inch to inch of ice on the ground and we don't want to risk having her slip. Last night was a big rough. She really hates being left alone, so she cried most of the night. She didn't seem to be in any pain, she just didn't like being left all by herself. I'll try to get some pictures taken today. They've shaved up her hind legs and a couple of spots where the IVs went, so she looks a bit like a freshly groomed standard poodle from behind.