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Author Topic: Itís been a long time- Pep having trouble with swollen elbow  (Read 57 times)

BrookeR

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Itís been a long time- Pep having trouble with swollen elbow
« on: November 01, 2019, 08:26:57 PM »

Itís been too long since I have last been on here. I always mean to check in every now and then but life gets busy. Sadly my pep (impa sufferer) is having trouble walking. She has a very swollen elbow and limping badly.
I was out one day 3 weeks ago now and she was fine when I left and when I came home she was limping. On the odd occasion that no one is home (myself and my partner both work from home) she sometimes would get up on the lounge. Then when she jumps off she hurts herself. I had believed that this is what happened this day I was out. As it appeared that she was limping on her front leg. She is a staffy and has really bad muscle wastage especially in her chest/shoulders due to the long term pred uses.
We have had a lot going on the last few weeks including my 6 year old having surgery so unfortunately I have had to try keep pep comfortable until I could focus on her. She improved some for a week or more but has been struggling again more the last few days. I noticed her elbow was swollen a few days or so in and then it appeared to not be as bad for a while but now itís looks more swollen again.

Pep is now 12 years old and is prone to pancreatitis as well. She also has bad arthritis mainly in her back legs. Which is causing her to have trouble getting up since she is having to rely on her back legs more while she protects her front elbow. Our whole house is tiles which makes things a lot harder for her. Especially when she hurts herself. I donít mop the floor anymore as this makes it impossible for her to walk. I have put a non slip runner coming from her bed down the hallway. I have considered getting toe grips for her to see how they go. Being a staffy she loves laying her belly our starfish on the cold tiles. Itís impossible to stop her so I have to try always be around to help her get up so she doesnít slip out and hurt herself more. However, it doesnít matter how many things I put in place to help her she always seems to go out of her way to not use them....

We have not needed to up her pred in years. She is only on 2.5mg pred per day and her liver levels are still quite high. I donít feel that she is going to handle an upping of pred again. So Iím looking into all other options prior to doing so.
She has put on a little weight at the moment and weighs 16kgs. She was on 1/2 tablet tramadol twice a day which I have upped to 3/4 tablet. She no longer has omega oils due to her pancreatitis and is only on Rosehip canine joint supplement, as she canít have any of the seafood ones due to her intolerances/allergies. She is also taking denosyl.
There are a number of things I have considered trying in the past, but my vet has felt they were too much of a risk with pep. She is allergic to many plants and also has food intolerances which add extra concern when deciding on supplements etc to give her. At this point in time Iím feeling some risks may be worth taking as I feel upping pred is going to be an option that will lead down a bad path.

Has anyone tried arnica with their impa dog? I have been giving this to my son who just had surgery and it occurred to me that this may be an option to try with pep.

Also in the past I had considered magnets and cbd oil before, but my vet wasnít comfortable with either..
I feel that pep has injured her shoulder but impa relapse is always in my mind. Previously though when she has relapsed (which was a long time ago now), within days she would be so bad that she could not walk at all. It has been 3 weeks or so now and she hasnít got like that. Also she is still wanting to follow me even though she is in pain, she has no fever and she isnít hanging her head in pain doing the egg shell walk. They were all things she previously did with a relapse. I have an appointment on Monday with our vet for her to see pep and see what she thinks but I am concerned she will want to up her pred. So Iím trying to look into other options.
The last time Pep had trouble 2-3 years ago now my vet thought she had relapsed and continued upping her pred. She got really sluggish and we checked her bloods and her liver levels were through the roof. We dropped her right back and she was fine.

Itís summer time here and this is the exact time of the year that pep first got impa and the time she has trouble with relapses, skin problems etc each year. Whenever we have hot days she always limps and struggles. Arthritis is supposed to be worse in the cold but she has always been the opposite.

She now has lumps coming on her in different places and with her age, cancer is a possibility but one I decided there was nothing to achieve by doing tests for. As she is too old and fragile to try put her through anything if we found out.

Another new problem is we are having trouble with her eyes being red and dry at the moment. She does have dry eye which I am still managing as I always had but the white parts of her eyes have started to become red. My vet looked closely at them and couldnít find any cause. So we had a round of amacin which improved it but it has now just come back again.

Anyoneís experience on the use of arnica or any other thoughts of other options would be much appreciated.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2019, 08:39:30 PM by BrookeR »
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Brooke with
Pepper, the English Staffy (IMPA since Dec 2014)
NSW Australia

Jo CIMDA

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Re: Itís been a long time- Pep having trouble with swollen elbow
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2019, 01:36:29 PM »

Hi Brooke and welcome back!

I am so pleased that Pepper has managed to achieve long term remission with IMPA.  It was a long journey for her and you.

From what you have written, it seems that this limp, and swelling around the joint, is isolated to just one leg and this indicates that it is more likely to be an injury or just old age - how wonderful that can be said about Pepper!

Personally, I wouldn't give more pred and if she is only on 2.5mg a day I doubt it is having much effect other than her adrenal glands won't be making as much of her daily requirement of glucocorticoid. So have you considered weaning her off the pred and going down the route of a conventional anti-inflammatory, such as Rimadyl or Metacam?  I wouldn't touch Previcox because that caused kidney failure in one of my dogs.   

If you would prefer to try alternative remedies, you could try Yumove (not sure if you can get it in Australia).  I know of many people who give CBD oil to their arthritic dogs, but it would be better if you had your vet's blessing.   

Arnica is a good remedy to promote healing but I don't know if it will help in this case.  Rhus Tox is a good homoeopathic remedy for stiff joints, so that might be worth a try or if you have a homoeopathic pharmacy in OZ they may be able to make a remedy just for Pepper.

Resting is essential when treating an injury but it is very difficult to control what Pepper will get up to when you are not around.

Do you give Pepper dry eye ointment?  If not then in the UK you can buy Viscotears from the chemist, and I would give those a try.

I do hope she improves very soon.

Lovely to hear from you.

Jo


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BrookeR

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Re: Itís been a long time- Pep having trouble with swollen elbow
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2019, 08:32:04 PM »

Hi Jo,
Itís nice to hear from you again. I hope all is well with you.

Yes pep has been on optimmune (cyclosporine) eye ointment for a couple of years or so now. I also regularly throughout the day put hylofresh lubricating tears in her eyes. Her body never likes this time of year and it is very dry here in australia this year in particular. Weíve also had heavy smoke from fires some distance away. Lots blowing around and lots of people have had trouble with hayfever and allergies, so Iím wondering if this has had an effect on her too. Possibly causing her red eyes. They have improved some the last couple of days and the air has also cleared from the smoke.

We saw my vet yesterday and she said the swelling in peps elbow could not be normal arthritis. She thinks that sort of level of swelling could only be caused by impa. I asked about cancer and she said it is very uncommon in the elbow where her swelling is. She also thought that with the amount of swelling if it were cancer than she doesnít believe Pep would be walking at all and would be in extreme pain. She suggested an X-ray which may show white coloured fluid if it is impa. She said fluid from impa is higher in protein and can show more of a white colour on xrays. If it were cancer there should be some sort of signs of erosion around the bone. Sorry that may not be the actual terminology she used but thatís how I understood.

I asked what we would achieve from an X-ray? If itís impa we have to up the pred. If itís cancer we up the pred/pain killers. She said Ďyes thatís correct, unless you plan on cutting her leg off.í (Which I donít.) So I decided not to do the X-ray for now. I really donít like upping the pred but there didnít seem like any other option. I had upped her tramadol the previous night and it didnít help and she started to be a little sedated.
Her limp/walk had also gotten worse after I wrote on here. Not the true Ďeggshell walkí but due to the pain swelling in her front elbow there was more emphasis on that leg.
I agreed to go up to 10mg once a day. This is under immune suppressing doses. But the last time she had a true relapse, not quite 4 years ago. That is the dose I gave her (even though our vet wanted me to give twice this). I tried 10mg and it took a couple of days but she came good at that dose. So that is where we are up to. Trialling 10mg of pred (once daily) for a few days with the 3/4 tramadol twice daily. If no response I may consider the X-ray. Iím not sure what else to do. Then I guess we go up pred more :(


One of her limp nodes in her neck was slightly more enlarged than normal, no fever and her other joints were a bit swollen but slightly less than the last time I saw our vet in September. At which point she had said her back hocks were a little swollen. But likely normal arthritis.

Our vet didnít think it was septic as there was no increased heat in that joint and no wound where contaminants could have gotten in.

Is there anything else that could cause an extremely swollen elbow? Could she have fractured it jumping off the lounge? She has a lot of muscle wastage in her chest, which is very noticeable seeming she is a staffy.


« Last Edit: November 05, 2019, 04:53:21 PM by BrookeR »
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Brooke with
Pepper, the English Staffy (IMPA since Dec 2014)
NSW Australia

Jo CIMDA

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Re: Itís been a long time- Pep having trouble with swollen elbow
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2019, 04:54:23 PM »

Hi Brooke

Usually, IMPA will not occur in only one joint.  The typical presentation is swelling on multiple joints, and usually with a high temperature.

The dose of pred is now an anti inflammatory dose, so perhaps this will do some good and reduce the inflammation in the joint. You can only try.

 If Pepper can have the x-ray without being put under sedation or a general anaesthetic then you may as well go for it if the increase in preds isn't effective.  It may show up the cause.

Euphrasia is a homoeopathic tincture that can be use to soothe the eyes.  Just a couple of drops in cooled boiled water can help but if Pepper's problem is immune mediated then it probably won't have much effect.

I do hope this increase in pred will do the trick.

Jo
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BrookeR

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Re: Itís been a long time- Pep having trouble with swollen elbow
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2019, 08:19:35 PM »

Hi Jo,

Yes thatís why I have been so puzzled that it seemed just to be that joint in particular.
So I decided to go ahead with the X-ray to see what was going on and if there was a fracture. Once i decided and booked the appointment her swelling began to decrease and she started gradually walking better. She still has some swelling and is still dipping her head when walking on that leg but even during the day while she was at the vet our vet noticed a decrease in swelling. She is only at 10mg once daily which she has been on for 4 days now. Unfortunately they sedated her (with pain relief). I really donít like doing that but felt like it was important to see what was going on before upping the pred. As I donít feel her liver will last long with a much higher dose.

Unfortunately the X-ray showed up a quite large area missing from the outside edge of her elbow. Like a bite had been taken out of it. A big corner piece missing :(  There was also a strange marking almost looked like a little hole/chip midway down below her elbow & before her wrist, in the centre of her bone that only showed on one X-ray. My vet has sent to a specialist to get their opinion on whether they think cancer or erosive poly arthritis. I was only reading up again on this the previous night prior to her X-ray. There is a picture of a staffy in michael j days book with rheumatoid arthritis and it always catches my eye. I did have X-rays done of pep a few months after she initially got diagnosed with impa to check if it looked erosive but at that point everything looked fine. I also mentioned about doing the blood test to check for the rheumatoid factor back then, but I donít think we ended up doing it as the vet at the time said they didnít believe that was it and I donít know if the test was even available in australia then.
My vet also took a small amount of fluid from peps joint (not enough to make the noticeable decrease in her joints swelling) while she was sedate. Normally she would ask me prior to doing this but when I came to pick her up she asked did I want to send it off. Since it was already collected I agreed. She wanted to see if that could give more of an idea if the cells were cancerous or just likely impa.

So we are now waiting to hear back on the results from the fluid taken and the specialists thoughts on her xrays. We have have decided to stay at 10mg once daily until we get results. My vet said she more thinks itís impa and erosive rather than cancer. But it really seems to be that one joint that is causing trouble which is not consistent with impa. I know erosive poly arthritis is really rare but also cancer in the elbow is rare too. But this is pepper and she seems to like going for the more rare diseases :(

My vet wants to try arthritis injections with pep but I feel the risk is too high. But if this is erosive impa we would have to assume all her other joints will be bad too and therefore I think we need to take a risk and try give her some joint supplement to try even slightly help. She is only on rose hip canine for her joints at the moment which is only anti inflammatory and doesnít have any effect on trying to prevent/heal damage. So my vet has given me 4cyte to try. We are waiting until after the weekend before trying just in case. It has rosemary extract in it which in the past I had read could cause seizures. My vet assured me she doesnít feel there being a problem and this is the best option to try.
I was rereading over my old notes last night and found some that said MSM (found in egg shells) given to dogs with RA showed no cartilage degeneration. So I want to mention this to our vet. I did at one point give pep ground up egg shells at a certain dose. So Iíll need to try find my notes on that. We have had to stop her fish oil due to her pancreatitis.

I really value your feedback Jo. With your vast knowledge it greatly helps to have another opinion and some extra knowledge from someone who follows and sees the story of all these dogs with impa and other similar disorders. We are forever great full for all your help over the years
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 10:30:22 PM by BrookeR »
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Brooke with
Pepper, the English Staffy (IMPA since Dec 2014)
NSW Australia

BrookeR

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Re: Itís been a long time- Pep having trouble with swollen elbow
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2019, 10:27:46 AM »

The specialists said peps X-rays could be erosive poly arthritis or cancer. They said there was shadow down towards her wrist which looked like fluid consistent with poly arthritis. The small strange area in the middle of her bone they didnít see as anything of significance at this point. They suggested bone or tissue samples to be sure, if joint fluid was inconclusive..
The joint fluid sample taken came back not showing any cancerous cells. My vet didnít write on their form peps history of poly arthritis so as not to taint their response. The pathologists report said there were no cancerous cells and increased neutrophils which they suggested as being suspected poly arthritis.

The swelling in her elbow went down when we went to the vets on Thursday then it went back up again and she struggled to walk at all on Friday. It was also really hot Friday which is when she has always had trouble walking even prior to whatís going on now. By Saturday she was walking better. The swelling started to go down Saturday arvo and was significantly down Sunday. She was better again Sunday with her walking and today once she was walking was the best she has been in a while. Still dipping her head and having some little stumbles when getting up but quite better than she has been.

Tomorrow we are forecast for catastrophic fire danger where we live and we live right on the bush. I am very apprehensive about tomorrow. Iím worried about our family, our house, our business (which we run from home) and Pep. Pep is normally terrible in the heat (in terms of not being able to walk well) and she doesnít handle change or stress well. Iím worried how she will be if we have to go evacuate. So i have decided with my vet to slightly increase her pred more and reassess in a few days when the fire danger has subsided some. Her liver wonít handle increased pred for long but I canít afford to put her on other drugs like cyclosporine again and she is too old to put her through that again anyway. We have been holding off increasing in hopes she will improve. But with the catastrophic weather forecast for the next few days I think we should try increase, to try get her more comfortable with all that could be going on. If we wait too long  and donít go up we may have to go up even higher in dose and then we will have less time due to her livers health. We also need to be concerned about her pancreatitis.
We are in a bad place right now with no good options :(
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Brooke with
Pepper, the English Staffy (IMPA since Dec 2014)
NSW Australia

Jo CIMDA

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Re: Itís been a long time- Pep having trouble with swollen elbow
« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 07:25:25 PM »

Oh Brooke, I am so sorry all these things have come at once.  I have seen on the TV,  the fires in Queensland and it must be such a worry for you, on top of all the investigations to find out what is wrong with Pepper's leg.

I do think a slight increase in pred is a good way to go.  Did the blood results show a marked high level of liver enzymes?  I hope not, but as you know the liver can take some pounding,  producing exceptionally high enzymes before it becomes a significant problem.  I hope the blood results show that you have room to increase the preds before having to truly worry about her liver.  I know you give liver support, so this should help.

It is so frustrating after having x rays done that a definitive diagnosis can't be reached but I have always been under the impression that cancer is not difficult to diagnose, so the fact that it is not obvious on the x rays  has to be a good thing for Pep. One of my dogs had cancer in the bone on his foreleg,  just above his wrist, and the pain was excruciating for him, and it was not a swelling that reduced because it was bone mass, not fluid,  so again I am hopeful that this is not Pepper's problem. 

From the feedback, it is likely to be an isolated joint problem, maybe due to older age, or the start of IMPA.  Rheumatoid arthritis is very rare and it also occurs in more than one joint.  I know the photograph you describe in Prof Day's book, and it is quite alarming. 

All you can do is to try the increase in pred and hope it brings Pepper some good relief.  Perhaps restrict her exercise for a week.  You have bigger things to worry about at this time.  I wish you safety,  for you and your family, and your neighbours and pets, and if you are evacuated then I hope you can return home very soon.

Take care
Jo




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