Bowie’s Injuries & Road to Recovery Pt.2

Missed Part 1? Read here.

Bowie was progressing so well with his front left leg recovery when he injured his back right leg about 2 months into his treatment. We suspected that he slipped on the rug when he was running in the hallway. We noticed that he started to limp the next day and didn’t get any better even after we rested him for a few days. The vet had a look at him and suspected that Bowie had sprained his back leg and gave him a course of anti-inflammatory. He told us to keep Bowie quiet and see if he got better. He did. What a relief – it’s only a sprain!

BUT… it’s so bloody hard to keep a Labrador quiet especially a boisterous one like Bowie. When we left him in his outdoor pen for literally 15 minutes, in his retaliation, he jumped up at least 1.5 metre high trying to get out of his pen. I heard a yelp! Arghhh… we held out hope that he’d be ok! Nope! Our worst nightmare came true. He badly re-injured his back leg and this time the prognosis wasn’t good.

After a series of examination including a drawer test, Bowie was diagnosed with cranial cruciate ligament. There are 3 grades of cranial cruciate ligament injury, from mildly damaged and slightly stretched to partial and a complete tear. The vet had to perform a needle arthroscopy to know exactly which grade was Bowie’s. We were crossing our fingers (toes, eyes, everything!) that the tear was less than 20% which meant that it could be saved with regenerative medicine and rehabilitation, and Bowie didn’t need to have surgery. Thankfully it was!

The treatment began
Bowie had a course of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection on the site of his injury and he was to be strictly kept quite for 4 to 6 weeks whilst continuing his rehabilitation sessions. Knowing him, we also had him in a knee protector which he wore most times especially when he’s moving around (just in case).

Side note on PRP
Here are what we’ve learned so far about PRP based on our personal experience with Bowie:

  • PRP is not a common treatment most vets will suggest – a conservative treatment of surgery (ie. TPLO) is normally advised. Only selected veterinary hospitals who specialise in canine sports and regenerative medicine offer PRP.
  • PRP will not work on a completely torn cruciate – hence the importance of arthroscopy to confirm the extent of the injury before committing to either PRP or surgery.
  • PRP costs less than half of the surgery cost.
  • It’s a non-invasive procedure. We had the PRP done together with the needle-scope. After the procedure, Bowie was a bit sore and groggy but able to walk. Bowie had a second dose of PRP injection a month after the first one and it only required a light sedation. Except being slightly groggy, he recovered pretty quickly.
  • No anti-inflammatory should be taken after PRP injection.
  • PRP or surgery, either way, the rehabilitation afterward is so important and will take time.
  • From our research online, we found that there are still on-going study and research being performed to determine the success of partial cranial cruciate ligament tears treated with PRP and stem cell therapy. But we trusted our vet and wanted to give it a go! In our experience with Bowie, PRP has worked wonders with his injury recovery.

Long road to recovery
It’s definitely an on-going commitment and hard work to get Bowie back on his 4 legs. As well as the PRP, rest and weekly rehabilitation sessions, we had to do strengthening exercises everyday at home (see video below). The exercises were aimed to build his muscles back to normal and strengthen them, so to be able to protect his ligament when he’s back running around (and being silly). It had been about 3 months since Bowie started the treatment and he’s doing very well. We had both his back leg muscles measured and they’re both even. What a great news!