Caudal Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (Wobblers)

Caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy (CCSM), also known as Wobblers syndrome, is a condition in which there is chronic instability of the vertebrae at the base of the neck.  This body attempts to secure this area of instability by proliferating ligaments and bone.  When these proliferating tissues encroach on the spinal cord, clinical signs of spinal cord dysfunction begin to appear.  These signs include an abnormal gait, weakness in limbs, and neck pain.

There are two types of CCSM based on what material is compressing the spinal cord.  In dogs with disc-associated CCSM, the intervertebral disc proliferates and impinges on the spinal cord from below.  Disc-associated CCSM tends to occur in large-breed dogs such as Dobermans, and is most common in older dogs.  In the second type of CCSM, osseous or bony compression is the cause of spinal cord injury.  Giant breed dogs such as Mastiffs, Great Danes, and Bernese Mountain dogs are at highest risk for osseous-associated CCSM.  Dogs with osseous-associated CCSM tend to be younger than with the disc-associated form, with an average age of 3 years.

CCSM is diagnosed by performing an MRI of the cervical spine.  Treatment can be medical or surgical.  Medical treatment typically includes strict cage rest, a course of an anti-inflammatory medication, and pain medications.  Surgical treatment is considered on a case-by-case basis in dogs with CCSM, as the surgical procedure performed and projected outcome varies depending on the location and type of spinal cord compression.

If you or your veterinarian suspects that your dog has CCSM, you may schedule a consultation with our Neurologist by calling us at our Manchester or Newington location today.