Twizzle – What a recovery!
Twizzle is a 10 year old male Maltese x Bichon Frise dog who presented to McTimoney Animal Chiropractor Jay Hrycak with an intermittent lameness on the front left leg. Twizzle was struggling to get onto the sofa, the bed and to get up the stairs too. Each episode of lameness was associated with other signs of distress and pain but when seen by the vet, his range of motion in the limb was fine, leading to some difficulty in diagnosing the cause of lameness. The vet prescribed Librela which led to some improvement, but Twizzle then started to lick his left paw a lot and this led to a lick granuloma where the skin tissue becomes damaged due to the constant licking to the area.
At this point, Twizzle’s owner, Jackie Dewhurst, brought him to see Jay and on discussion of his history, Jay discovered that Twizzle had been attacked by a large dog 3 years ago. Jackie explains, “Twizzle was attacked by a much larger dog in September 2020. He was left with a massive open wound just behind his right shoulder, which required extensive treatment and took several weeks to heal. The anaesthetics necessary for his treatment have also left him with a heart murmur.” Poor Twizzle is only 5kg!
By November 2022, Jackie noticed him walking differently, using both back legs together to push off and landing on his front paws. He appeared to be bobbing along. Jackie says, “And then in May this year, I was just putting him down after a car journey and he let out a scream of pain. He lifted his left paw and was moving very gingerly for some time. There were more of these episodes over the next few weeks, and at one point, we managed to film his movements after a spasm in the hope that it would help diagnosis. Twizzle has brilliant vets, but they were unable to find the cause of the spasms, despite extensive examination, and began to prescribe pain killing injections. From early on, a friend was recommending I try to find a chiropractor. He has experience of chiropractic himself following martial arts injuries and told me how a skilled person can find underlying problems that a conventional GP or vet, cannot. He was concerned that pain killing injections could simply be masking a problem and not contributing to a cure.”
In Jay’s assessment Twizzle would only sit down or lie on his right hand side and his left fore lameness was apparent although both front legs had limited movement in swing phase, (meaning when they were in the air). He could not achieve a ‘trot’ moving in diagonal pairs but would rather move in a ‘pace’ style so both front and hindlimbs on the same side moved at once, and then move straight into a half bound if his speed increased. There was atrophy in Twizzle’s hind right musculature meaning he had less muscle here and he was overdeveloped and very tight in his thoracic trapezius muscles just behind his shoulders. There was also soft tissue restriction all through the right-side chest region and into the lower back are on both sides. Whilst McTimoney Animal Chiropractors specialise in the palpation and gentle adjustment of the spinal system, the assessment of the associated musculature is also important to understand the issues an animal may be having.
Upon palpation of the spine, Jay found asymmetries throughout Twizzle’s neck, back and pelvis. Jay says, “I felt that the restrictions through his right sided fascia was creating a chronic compensation on the left fore and restricting his movement in general through his thoracic sling. It was also leading to restriction through his pelvis and limited movement through his hind limbs. This had potentially led to the atrophy of his hind limb muscles and therefore when moving this was causing more weight to be transferred to Twizzle’s left fore where he was already uncomfortable and restricted. As a result, he was tiring very easily on walks (due to not being able to trot or walk comfortably), struggling with jumping up and using the stairs, and not being able to recover from his fore left lameness.”
Twizzle was understandably quite sensitive, having had such a traumatic injury 3 years previously and then the more recent left fore lameness, so Jay adapted her first treatment to avoid working on Twizzle’s lower back. Jay states, “I also used a Photizo infrared device as well as direct myofascial release techniques over his right sided chest area where he had a lot of fascial restriction and scar tissue,” showing how well chiropractic care can be integrated with other modalities in these more complex cases.
On his second visit to Jay, Twizzle’s owner reported a great improvement, with more energy and stating that Twizzle had his bounce back. Jackie explains, “After the very first session, and with doing exercises recommended by Jay, he was very much better.” He was more comfortable with the stairs, and there had been a great reduction in his incidents of lameness and pain. On assessment Twizzle was standing and walking more evenly and was able to trot. Jay remembers, “He was also much more comfortable in his lumbar spine, and I was able to apply gentle adjustments in all areas this time.”
By his third visit Twizzle was very happy and had had no further incidents of lameness and pain at all. Jackie reported that “now when he walks, he uses both back legs in a scissor movement as he should. He really enjoys his walks, and joined us for a week in Glastonbury, where he climbed the famous Tor up as far as the orchard.” Jay also noted that he was no longer favouring his right side when sitting or lying and that he was often sitting squarely by choice and much more comfortable standing squarely for his assessment. There was improved development of his muscles in his hind limbs showing that his body was continuing to positively respond to his chiropractic treatment and previously chronic patterns of misuse probably instigated by Twizzle’s injuries from the dog attack were now removed.
Jay summarises this as, “I feel that McTimoney treatment allowed Twizzle to regain his balance and thus his body was better able to heal a potential unknown previous injury to his fore left and also repair the effects of scar tissue and previous surgeries on his chest fascia, thus putting less pressure on all the surrounding muscles and leading to less compensatory issues through his body. Twizzle is now much more comfortable, and his Jackie is very happy that her aim for the treatment (to ease his episodes of lameness and pain which she found very distressing) have been achieved. She did not expect his additional energy and stamina on walks and is very pleased with this as a bonus.”
Jackie summarises, “Twizzle’s had a few sessions now and seems to enjoy Jay having hands on him and making small adjustments. Hopefully, we’ll soon get to a stage where he just requires maintenance, but I’m really glad we tried chiropractic for him. It’s made a massive difference to his movement and quality of life.”
Jay Hrycak is a McTimoney Animal Practitioner based in Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire, www.cedarlily.co.uk