What is Lumbo-sacral Stenosis?
Lumbo-sacral Stenosis, also referred as lumbo-sacral instability, is a condition that causes narrowing of the vertebral canal in the back through which the spinal cord and nerves pass through. As a result, this condition places pressure on these nerve and is associated with a variety of neurological signs ranging from pain to paralysis. This condition is more common in dogs but rare in cats.
How does my cat get Lumbo-sacral Stenosis?
This condition may be either acquired or congenital, but no specific feline breeds have been identified. The acquired form is the result of aging and associated degenerative changes to the vertebral canal, muscles and connective tissue of the vertebra. In the congenital form, a cat is born with this spinal abnormality.
How do I know if my cat has Lumbo-sacral Stenosis?
Depending upon the severity of the pressure on the nerves and spinal cord, the signs include pain in the lower back and/or hind legs, reluctance to jump up on furniture or climb stairs, hind limb lameness, carrying the tail low, muscle atrophy, urinary or fecal incontinence and constipation. In some instances, self-mutilation may occur as the cat tries to combat the pain. Since many of these signs are linked to other conditions, it is important for your veterinarian to perform a thorough physical examination and take radiographs of the spine and pelvis to accurately identify Lumbo-sacral Stenosis. Additional testing, usually done by a boarded neurologist, radiologist, or surgeon, may include myelography, MRI and CAT scans.
What can I do about Lumbo-sacral Stenosis?
Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, strict rest for many weeks and the use of anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to decrease the pressure on the spinal cord and prevent further swelling or damage. In severe cases, surgery is necessary to fuse the bones together in proper position or to remove part of the bone and intervertebral disc to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves. The surgery will help with the pain, but any neurological changes that may have occurred may or may not be repaired. Your cat must be confined for up many, manyweeks after surgery and may need to have his bladder manually expressed.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting Lumbo-sacral Stenosis?
There is little that can be done from a preventative standpoint other than to maintain your cat at a healthy weight.
Are there certain breeds that get Lumbo-sacral Stenosis more often?
No. Cats of any breed can develop this condtion, however its prevalence is quite rare.