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Chronic Degenerative Radiculo Myelopathy (CDRM)

This is a condition is the degeneration of the hind limbs due to the
spinal cord degrading (the white matter within particularly). The disease is the demyelination of the proprioceptive nerve fibres; resulting in the impulses which used to signal the legs to move; not reaching them.


On examination the vet will manipulate the hind limbs in order to assess pain perception so that degenerative skeletal conditions can be ruled out. They will then progress on to proprioception tests (tests that assess the dog’s awareness of their hind limbs). Dogs with CDRM will be unaware of the placement of the foot and be considered to have poor proprioception; they would be displaying clinical signs of the degeneration of the proprioceptive nerves. 


The condition is not a painful one and does not respond to pain relief or anti-inflammatories but in the more advanced stages it can be very distressing for the dog affected. This is because they lose the ability to coordinate and may fall as a result of not knowing where their hind legs are. During the initial stages of this condition the dog may be seen to have a slight drunken appearance when walking; known as ataxia.


The condition then progresses to the dog being unable to move smoothly when going from sitting to standing and when turning (in most cases). This inability to coordinate the hind limbs with the front end is as a result of losing the awareness and sensation of the back legs.


The degeneration appears to travel in an ascending fashion by beginning to show in the distal end (foot end) of the limb in the initial stages and then travelling up the legs, on to the spine and in severe cases the front limbs. Trauma can become apparent on the back feet and hips due to scuffing and falling as a result of the dog’s inability to correct the limbs when they have been misplaced or not moved when the rest of the body has.


Benefits of Massage


  • Relaxes the dog
  • Reduces areas of overcompensation in other areas of the body
  • Stimulates nerve activity
  • Eases anxiety