Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Dog-leg diary: One leg good, three legs bad...

Last Saturday, we went for Fargo’s physiotherapy session, which he found extremely exciting, since he hadn’t been for ‘proper’ walk for ages. There were a lot of questions about floor surfaces, diet and exercise, as well as a thorough assessment of Fargo’s gait.

Chilling with Charlie - Fargo takes it easy, for once

It looks like Fargo’s knee operation is healing well and he’s putting a decent amount of the weight on his foot. It’s early days as he only had his operation three weeks ago and the bone that was cut will take around 12 weeks to heal, so we literally have to tread carefully, but so far so good.

But nothing’s ever that easy is it? We knew that Fargo had lost a fair bit of muscle on his poorly leg, and he needs to build that back up through slow walks, stretching and massage. What we didn’t realise was that he’s also lost some muscle on his other back leg, the one that’s supposed to be his ‘good’ one. Worse, the physiotherapist spotted that Fargo wasn’t walking evenly at his front end either. He suspects that Fargo’s been using his left front leg to compensate for his right back leg and that’s put pressure on his left shoulder, which is sore now.

How can I not have noticed this? As soon as the physiotherapist pointed it out to me, it was obvious. But I suppose the changes to Fargo’s gait have come on gradually and, since I noticed he had a problem, I’ve been focusing so much on his back legs that I didn’t realise there was an issue up front too. Despite the fact that I can see the problem now, I know I still wouldn’t have spotted it if it hadn’t been pointed out to me. The physiotherapist clearly understood this, and I suppose it's to be expected that an injury to one leg will affect the others, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

What does make me feel better is that, now we've identified these problems, we can try to do something about them. Fargo now has a daily regime:
·        Five minutes of very slow walking, three times a day – this is to make sure he puts weight on his legs evenly and uses a full range of motion so he can gradually build his muscles back up
·        Massages to both his back legs, three times a day – this involves stroking and circling movements right the way up his legs. He quite likes the massages, but he’s not that keen on lying down for that long
·        Stretches for both his back legs, three times a day – he doesn’t much care for these, but he’ll tolerate them if you bribe him
·        An ice pack on his shoulder three times a day – Fargo’s quite enjoyed this in the recent hot weather, and if he’s lying the right way I can combine it with massaging one of his legs.

It's like Fargo's own private health spa, with me as the chief therapist. It's hard work, especially with two other dogs to exercise, but it's also quite a nice way to interact with Fargo. I think it's already making a difference, but that could be wishful thinking on my part. At this stage, the improvements are so small and Fargo’s exercise so strictly regulated that, like his shoulder problem, it may take a professional to say whether there’s really any change.

We live in hope though, and we’re off back to the physio on Friday, so we’ll find out then. In the meantime, Fargo doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with him. He's enjoying the attention, if not the stretches, and apart from not being allowed to bounce about and run around, he’s happy.

No comments:

Post a Comment