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Commonly Affected: Middle-aged to older large breed male dogs, especially German Shepherds

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain affecting the hind limbs
  • Reluctance to jump or climb stairs
  • Reluctance to sit or rise
  • Difficulty walking on one or both hind limbs (exacerbated by increased activity)
  • Staring and/or biting at hind limbs
  • Knuckling
  • Hind limb weakness
  • Decreased tail tone/movement
  • Abnormally low tail carriage
  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Urinary or fecal abnormalities (incontinence)
  • Loss of sensation
  • Ataxia

A number of factors may contribute to Lumbosacral Disease. At the junction between the last lumbar vertebrae and the sacrum, we may see disc protrusion, subluxation and soft tissue and bone proliferation.

Physical Examination Findings

  • Pain on hind limb or tail hyperextension
  • Pain when pressure is applied to dorsal sacral/caudal lumbar vertebrae
  • Pain upon rectal palpation of the L7-S1 disc space
  • Abnormal hind limb conscious proprioceptive response (loss of position sense in one or both hind limbs)
  • Reduced hind limb flexor reflex (especially hock flexion)
  • Exaggerated patellar reflex (knee)
  • Unilateral or bilateral atrophy of the sciatic-innervated muscles (hamstring, gastrocnemius, cranial tibial)
  • Poor anal tone
  • Decreased tail sensation

Radiographs (x-rays) may be clean or show bone proliferation and sacral subluxation. MRI required to visualize nerve root compression.

A number of medical and surgical management options are available for treatment of LS disease.

Conservative medical management, similar to that for intervertebral disc disease, includes restricting activity, administering non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), pain medications and/or corticosteroid injections. Rehabilitation therapy may also be advisable.

Currently, there is no standard for surgical treatment of LS disease because each case is different. If necessary, surgery may include removal of bone, soft tissue and disc contributing to nerve root compression, as well as stabilization of the LS junction.

Contact Us

Veterinary Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Group


10975 Guilford Rd, Ste B Annapolis Junction, MD 20701


Mon-Fri: 8 AM to 6 PM
Sat: 8:30 AM to 4 PM