Fibrocartilagenous Embolism

Sick Dog

Fibrocartilagenous Embolish (FCE) or Spinal Cord Stroke occurs very suddenly. Small particles of the spinal disk (fibrocartilage) between the bones of the spine (vertebrae) block the blood vessels in the spine.

FCE usually affects young or middle-aged dogs, medium to large breeds, but can occur in any dog. It rarely happens in cats or horses.

Sudden onset of FCE usually takes place when the dog is active, exercising, running, during play. The dog will cry out as it is very painful at first. Generally the dog can experience pain relief within minutes to hours. Rarely does the pain last for more than 24 hours. Weakness or paralysis can occur in one or more limbs. Continued spinal pain is an indication of something other than FCE.

The cause of FCE is unknown. CT scans or MRIs are helpful with diagnosis. If the FCE occurs at the lower back or lower neck, permanent damage is more likely. Your veterinarian will check for other conditions such as spinal tumor, fracture, invertibral disk disease.

Treatment recommended is physical therapy to begin at once. Massage, underwater treadmill (hydrotherapy), acupuncture, special exercises, laser therapy are among the treatments available. Corticosteriods may be administered. In addition, placing the dog on supplements such as the B vitamins, Vitamin E, antioxidents is helpful, all of which you can speak about with your vet.

A quick response and treatment for FCE can offer your dog full recovery or at least a better quality of life.

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