My Dog Ruptured a Disc in his Back. Does he need Surgery?
The intervertebral discs (the cushion that resides in the space between adjacent spinal vertebrae) are subject to a number of degenerative conditions and forces that predispose them to bulge or rupture over time. This rupture leads to two types of damage to the spinal cord, compression and concussion.
Compression is the physical pressure exerted over time against the spinal cord which leads to slow degeneration and loss of neurons (nerve cells). Intervertebral disc rupture that is purely compressive usually begins slowly and leads to gradual worsening of neurologic function. Concussion force is the physical damage caused by a rapidly extruded disc impacting the spinal cord causing profound swelling and degeneration and loss of neurons.
Purely concussive forces are usually rapidly progressive and have an acute onset. Most intervertebral disc ruptures are a combination of compressive and concussive forces that lead to the rapid degeneration of nervous tissue in the spinal cord. The type of force, the degree of force applied to the spinal cord, and the duration that the force was applied will determine the extent of the damage and the loss of neurologic function.
Learn more about disc disease from the American College of Veterinary Surgery:
Related anatomy of the spine:
Please note: The information provided here is intended to supplement the recommendations of your veterinarian. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment based on information on this site. Nothing can replace a complete history and physical examination performed by your veterinarian. -Dr. Jeff