Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (CDRM)

On a number of occasions now, I have been asked to treat dogs diagnosed with CDRM or Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy to give it its full title. It is a degenerative disease, degenerating fibres have been found in the nerve roots of a number of affected dogs, which has been diagnosed in a number of large breeds including Irish Setter, Collies, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Labradors though German Shepherds are the breed most affected.

It is not a painful condition but is a progressive disabling condition which affects the spine, it appears to be an autoimmune-type disease.

Dogs affected by CDRM lose coordination in their low back and hind legs and may start to drag their feet, knuckling them over causing rubbing to the claws. They can start criss crossing their back legs, or sitting down suddenly when losing balance. The condition appears mainly to affect the nerves governing proprioception, the sense of where our body is in space and relation to the environment, and spreads from the lower to the upper spine. In its extreme stages, the dog can eventually lose use of the back legs and, if allowed to continue, the front legs will eventually be affected.

The disease cannot be cured but can be managed. Dogs which develop symptoms later in life can often live on to a “normal” lifespan maintaining their mobility. It is important to try to keep the dog as active as possible and to avoid weight gain.
Nubis’, one of my clients, owner found using acupuncture along with Best Acetyl – L – Cartinine made a difference. This supplement is a naturally occurring form of L-Carnitine, a vitamin-like nutrient synthesized in the body, from the amino acids lysine and methionine. ALC plays a key role in the production of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for brain and nerve cell function. It is used to support energy metabolism in the brain, keep nerves healthy and in good repair and decrease free radical production in the brain.

On assessment, the dogs I have seen diagnosed with CDRM have very tight and sore muscles at their front end, neck, scapular and thoracic spine. As the back end is losing power as a driving force to propel them forward, the dogs now have to compensate by pulling themselves forward with their front end which is overworking these muscles.
Myofascial release to these muscles can give back the spring in their step and give more energy in general.

TTouch ground work exercises can also help with proprioception, walking over objects on the ground and over different surfaces will make a dog think more about what their feet are doing, stimulating the nerves and brain.

At present there is no cure for CDRM but there are treatments that can help support your dog and keep them as well as can be for as long as possible.