Leg Fracture Rehab: Advice Needed!

This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.


So Snootchy
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '07 6:58am PST 
The good news is my foster dog has finally gotten the 4 pins removed from his broken back leg (he was found as a stray so we don't know how it happened)!

He wore a soft cast for about 9 weeks. Now, even though the compound fracture has healed, he still does not straighten his leg. He puts a little weight on it, but the muscle is significantly smaller and he just doesn't seem to realize he can be using it more (granted it's only been two days since the bandages have been removed). It's stiff like a stick, poor thing.

Has anyone else had a dog who's recovered from a fracture? How long does it take for them to regain use of that limb? Will his leg stay straight forever? Should I be doing more than massaging it once in a while? (My wonderful vet here in Korea speaks very little English so I'm a little lost about what to do now).

Thanks in advance for any tips & advice.


Edited by author Tue Apr 10, '07 6:59am PST

Nakita Mae- Angel Girl

Live to dock- dive!
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '07 11:45am PST 
Did the vet give you passive range of motion exercises to do with your dog? Also have you looked into rehab vets, you can ask your vet about them. Also massage therapy can do wonders. I would hope that your vet can give you a lot of different options, we do when we have done fracture repairs. It must have been one of the front legs that was fractured if they put a cast on it, rear legs don't do well at keeping casts in place but it is done.
If you can find a rehab vet, the underwater treadmill is wonderful at ortho recovery, it does not put stress on the leg but still works the leg out. It is absolutely amazing how well it works to rebuild muscles with out strain on the leg.
If you need any help finding a vet with rehab capabilities you can email me if you would like and I will look in our directory for vets in your area.dog

I smell a- rabbit!
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '07 12:15pm PST 
Hello there,
Glad to hear it's all healed up! My dog also had the same problem when his cast came off. He had no pain, but didn't realize that he could use his leg normally again. We actually wrapped a small "ace" bandage on his leg afterwords, not for support, but just more as a transition phase. After wrapping it loosely, he began to walk on it and using it normally, bending it again. His leg too was smaller than the other and maybe the ace gave it just enough weight to feel normal again. I thought it was a goofy idea but it worked and after a week we took it off and he was good as new, using his leg as if nothing had happened. Just an idea. Hope something works.

Badger- Hunter's- Little- Smokie

Come closer!- Have U been dog- approved?
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '07 12:29pm PST 
I didn't have a fracture, but I had one of my leg bones cut so it would grow longer. I had pins in my front leg for 3 months. While I had the pins in, I had hydrotherapy every other day.

Basically, Mom had to run warm water over my leg to keep the pins clean and to keep the circulation going in my leg. She used the shower massage on a cord in the bathtub to run water on just that one leg. I could use it a little with the pins and didn't have much trouble using it after the pins came out. My elbow was a little sore, but that's where my trouble was. It didn't form quite right because one bone was too short.

Maybe ask your vet if there is something like that you can do to help loosen up your leg.

Smoke, *salutes another Super-Bionic dog*
Takoda (In- Loving- Memory)

Let\'s Go!
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '07 12:35pm PST 
You'll be OK!

Takoda had a broken back leg when she was around 5 months old. It was in a splint for 5 weeks. When the splint came off, her leg had atrophied. It looked awful - her foot didn't even reach the ground and she couldn't move it at all, and seemed to be in more pain then she was before. She used it less than when it was in the splint and the leg was tiny & skinny.

Our vet told us to exercise it several times a day - we just very gently would massage and bend her leg. It only took 6 days before she was walking on it, with a little limp. Then it did not take long before she was running on it and walking up stairs. The vet said she may always have a limp but after a month or so you couldn't even tell. She healed up just fine. Now she's almost 5 and loves to run and run for miles - you would never know!


So Snootchy
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '07 4:55pm PST 
Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your stories and help!

Nakita Mae,
Being in Korea, the language barrier is a really big hindrance when I'm at the vet. We communicate at a basic level in each other's languages, and with dictionaries and body language. You can imagine the difficulties...

So, unfortunately no, I don't know about the motion exercises you talk about. Do you know a website link that could explain them to me?

The fracture was in the back leg (pictures of the pins here, and the whole story and pictures here ) The cast was really a soft bandage wrap, but his leg couldn't bend with it on.

My vet did say swimming was the best exercise, but the weather is still chilly and I can pretty much guarantee that there is no underwater treadmill in all of Korea. Oh, I wish there were, it sounds perfect for him. He loves to run but I'm afraid it's too much impact.

What is an "ace" bandage? I think that idea sounds great. Scruffy is so sensitive about his leg (I can touch it without him grumbling, but he gets nervous about it). I think a little wrap would make him feel secure.

That warm water massage sounds great! (And Scruffy needs a bath anyway). We have a great shower nozzle and Korean bathrooms (all tiled, no shower curtain) are great for bathing dogs who are afraid of tubs. Excellent idea, I'll try it today!

How did you go about bending her leg? I'd like to try gently but I'm scared to put much pressure on it... It's so good to hear that Takodo can run so much now. Scruffy has so much energy, I can't wait til he can use it for the Forces of Good (like running), instead of the Forces of Naughtiness (like bouncing off my dog).

Thank you all so much!
Karen and Scruffy
Badger- Hunter's- Little- Smokie

Come closer!- Have U been dog- approved?
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '07 5:02pm PST 
Scruffy's pins look kind of like mine did. I had a big plastic thing on the outside that held the pins in place. Since his pins were closer to the joint, that could be why his leg is stiffer. My elbow didn't fit together right bee-fore the surgery. My bone cut was lower on the bone. I have a picture in my photobook that shows my pins and fixature (that's what the finger looking thing is called - it fixes the pins in place).

You could try the warm water with some gentle massage like the others suggested while you're running the water over it. That would be a good time to try and gently flex his joint a little too. The warm water might help loosen his muscles and make it feel better too.

I know when I first got my pins out, my leg was kind of sore again. It took a few weeks bee-fore Mom trusted me to run a lot and act normal. You kind of have to ease back in to regular activities.

Smoke, sending Super-Bionic healing

So Snootchy
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '07 5:20pm PST 
My apologies, Smoke. I read too quickly and mistook your name. Oospy.

I saw your photo album, wow those pins look painful (and clean compared to Scruffy's!!). Did you have to keep your leg wrapped up, except for the bath?
Badger- Hunter's- Little- Smokie

Come closer!- Have U been dog- approved?
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '07 5:57pm PST 
Awww...Don't worry. Badger works too. That's my full proper name. *poke* Everyone calls me Smoke for short.

They didn't have me wrap the leg, just the plastic fixature. They called it a "bumper bandage". My leg was out in the open air. The stretchy gauze stuff was there to pad the fixature and keep things from snagging on the rough parts. They did take the bandage off the fixature for the hydrotherapy. I think the hydrotherapy really helped because it kept the circulation going in my leg while the bone healed.

Maybe Scruffy had to have the leg completely bandaged to keep the joint from moving? I had a rod down the middle of the leg bone that came out the elbow joint and 3-4 pins into the side of the bone to hold it in place. My cut was in the middle of the bone away from the elbow joint. His looks like it's right at the joint.

I hope the water and massage help loosen up his muscles and joints. Kind of like the stuff they do for athletes in training with sore muscles and stuff.

Smoke, no more limpy leg