Wobbler Disease (Caudal Cervical Spondylomyelopathy)
Most Commonly Affected
Middle-aged to older large breed dogs (Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dalmations)
Signs & Symptoms
- Progressive gait abnormality (long hind limb strides, short forelimb strides, ataxia)
- Neck pain
- Low head carriage
Physical Examination Findings
- Choppy, short-strided forelimb gait with wide based ataxic hind limb gait
- Increased knee reflex
- Delayed postural reaction in pelvic limbs
- Pain upon palpation and flexion of the cervical vertebrae (neck)
- May have neurologic deficits in the forelimbs
Wobbler disease is caused by a variety of factors. An underlying instability in the caudal cervical spine is believed to cause growth in the bones, ligaments and soft tissues surrounding the spinal cord, which impinges the spinal cord itself. Intervertebral disc protrusion may also contribute to the condition.
MRI is beneficial in diagnosis of Wobbler disease. X-rays may also be taken to rule out other causes.
Depending on the severity of signs, there are a number of medical and surgical management options available. Conservative medical management, similar to that for Intervertebral Disc Disease, includes restricting activity, switching to a chest harness, and administering non-steroidal or steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, pain medications, and/or corticosteroid injections. Currently, there is no standard for surgical treatment of CSM. If necessary, surgery may include removal of bone, soft tissue and discs contributing to spinal compression, as well as stabilization of the spine.