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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Peripheral Nerve Injuries

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Condition Overview

An injury to a nerve results in loss of sensation and/or muscle movement in the structures affected by that nerve.

Symptoms

With complete paralysis, the leg hangs limply. With partial paralysis, the dog stumbles when attempting to put weight on the leg.

Causes

Common causative injuries are stretches, tears, and lacerations.

Stretches involving the brachial and radial nerves are usually caused by auto accidents or falls in which the front leg is jerked away from the trunk. A similar stretching of the femoral or static nerves can cause a paralyzed back leg. Nerves can be crushed when a vehicle rolls over the leg. Bone fractures and muscle injuries often occur at the same time.

Another cause of nerve paralysis (usually temporary) is the injection of an irritating medication into the tissue surrounding the nerve. This problem does not occur frequently, but can be a cause of concern when it does.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by veterinary examination.

Treatment

Lacerated nerves do not regenerate. The paralysis is permanent. Stretched nerves may (but do not always) return to normal. Those that do recover begin to improve in 3 weeks and may continue to improve for 12 months. If recovers does not occur, the dog may benefit from amputation of the paralyzed leg. Electroacupuncture to stimulate the nerves may encourage healing.

Prevention

There is no prevention for this condition.

Support

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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