Issue Description This condition is best known as spondylosis
deformans. There is no spinal cord compression, but the spine is
immobilized in that location. If the condition continues to spread,
there may be several such bridges, "welding" a series of vertebrae
into an inflexible backbone. Other Names Spondylosis
Causes Generally thought to be hereditary.
Symptoms When the space between two adjacent vertebrae
narrows, compression of a nerve root emerging from the spinal cord may
result in radiculopathy (sensory and motor system disturbances, such
as severe pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, back, and/or leg,
accompanied by muscle weakness). Less commonly, direct pressure on the
spinal cord (typically in the cervical spine) may result in global
weakness, gait dysfunction, loss of balance, and loss of bowel and/or
Diagnosis Often, spondylosis will be discovered on
radiographs incidentally while the vet is looking for something else,
such as a cause for lameness. In some of these cases, he may be
tempted to make his diagnosis right then, and not to look further for
the actual main cause, which may include HD, osteochondrosis in other
joints, tumors, and others. Osteoarthritis of the spine (inflammation
of the joints between vertebrae) is not the same disorder, nor is true
spondylitis (an inflammation of the vertebrae themselves, brought on
by either trauma or infection). Remember that "-itis" means
inflammation, and spondylosis deformans is a non-inflammatory
Treatment Treatment for spondylosis deformans is often
unnecessary as the pain can be minimal and the disease rarely causes
compression of the spinal cord. Supportive care may include one or
more of the following:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may be used in pets
that are painful. All drugs have potential side effects; however, the
newer NSAIDs seem to have less side effects than aspirin in animals.
Surgical treatment to remove the spurs if spinal cord compression
is evident based on the myelogram.
Prognosis Many affected dogs live satisfactory lives,
though somewhat limited in flexibility and range of motion.
Fortunately, by the time spondylosis deformans becomes noticeable in
clinical signs, the dog may be considered "retired" from his duties of
running around, jumping, and doing the other things expected of a
youngster. In some individuals, it will get worse suddenly rather than
continue in a gradual worsening. Possibly, trauma may bring fracture
of the bridge created in the development of spondylosis, which crack
may spread to the arch and body, thus pinching the cord.