Brachial plexus avulsion
Injuries to the dog’s neck and shoulder area can damage the roots of the spinal nerves that run into the forelimbs. In some cases, the injury may cause the roots to get torn from where they connect with the spinal cord causing brachial plexus avulsion. The symptoms depend on the extent of damage caused by the injury.
Total severing of the nerves can result in complete paralysis of the limbs as well as loss of reflexes and other sensations below the elbow. The dog may avoid putting any weight on the limbs and allow the paw to drag along, causing damage to the tissues. Amputating the limbs may be necessary to avoid complications resulting from such injuries. If the nerve roots are not completely torn off, the prognosis is much better.
Sciatic nerve injury
This nerve originating at the lower back and extending to the hind limbs is prone to get damaged in injuries such as hip fractures. It can be damaged during surgical procedures for correcting leg fractures too. Certain injections given in the hip or legs can irritate or damage the sciatic nerve. Partial paralysis of the affected limb and loss of sensation in the area below the knee are the common symptoms of sciatic nerve damage. It may not be possible for the dog to flex its knee. Injury to the peroneal nerve or the tibial nerve that branch off the sciatic nerve can make the flexing and extension of the paw as well as the digits impossible. It may result in loss of sensation in the foot too.
Once the nerves are disconnected and separated, it is very difficult to restore their functions. The nerve has to grow back along the entire length and up to its connection with the muscle. The regeneration of nerve tissue is extremely slow and often impeded by the formation of scar tissue over their severed ends.
Traumatic injuries are often treated with anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the damage caused to the nerves, but it is doubtful whether it helps nerve tissue regeneration in any way. Immediate surgical intervention offers hope, as it is possible to reconnect the torn sections. If the damage had resulted from blunt objects or falls in the past, the scar tissue that might have formed already must be surgically removed to facilitate proper healing and restoration of functions. To reduce the effects of nerve damage such as muscle wasting, regular exercise and physiotherapy is necessary. The limbs may have to be supported with splints and bandages.