intervertebral disc disease

November 2017 Patient of the Month

Arlie 2.jpg

Arlie's Story

In February of 2015, we lost our doxie, Bosley.  He had been our son for 13 years and his passing left an emptiness in our life.  My husband and I were determined not to rush into adopting another dog, but in November we happened to see a picture of two dachshund brothers, Jamis and Arlie, on Facebook that were up for adoption at Chapman’s Dachshund Rescue and our hearts opened up to these two sweethearts. We contacted Chapman’s and made arrangements to travel to York, SC to adopt our new sons.  Unfortunately, a couple of days later, my husband’s mother passed away and we weren’t sure when we would be able to get the boys. Chapman’s was willing to hold them for us, so on Thanksgiving Day we finally headed to Chapman’s to meet our boys.

On November 29, we drove to the rescue which was abound with lots of noisy, but happy, dachshunds of all shapes, colors and types.  Gina Chapman met us and introduced us to a handsome red dapple doxie named Jamis and his sweet brother, also a red shorthair, named Arlie.  Gina gave us a large crate, and soon we were off to my cousin’s home, about an hour away, for the night and on to Syracuse and home the following day. Jamis and Arlie were five years old when we adopted them and had come from a home in Utah.  Their owner was elderly and had to be put in a residential facility that did not take dogs.  Her family took the dogs to their home in Fayetteville, NC, but did not want to keep them.  Gina Chapman came to the rescue and took them to her facility about two weeks before we adopted them.

Arlie and Jamis

Arlie and Jamis

Upon arrival at our home, the boys were very happy to see we had a large fenced-in yard, and proceeded to check out the critters who stood no chance against the doxie hunters.  In the months that followed, they became an integral part of our family and friends.  Jamis’ high-pitched scream and Arlie’s “talking” became a daily occurrence whenever we returned from a few hours away from the house.

In late October of the next year, Arlie began walking unsteadily with his back end seemingly weak.  We took him to our vet who stated that we should either take him to Cornell or the Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York.  When she said that, it brought back memories of a problem our Bosley had, so we felt time was critical so we took him to VMC.  He was admitted that evening and after a few hours he was unable to walk at all.  Dr. Robinson, who had operated on Bosley in 2004, diagnosed that Arlie had a herniated disc and proceeded to operate.  After a couple of days, we were able to take our little man home and begin home therapy.  My husband and I learned how to express his bladder and perform leg exercises.  In the next few weeks and months, we also took him for acupuncture and physical therapy with Dr. Fleckenstein and Lis at Care Pet Therapy.  After a few months of therapy he was almost back to normal, running and chasing any animal that dared to enter our yard.

In June of 2017, we noticed that Arlie had again started to walk oddly.   We thought maybe he had just hurt his leg when running, but in a couple of days we knew that something more serious was happening.  Dachshunds are notorious for racing down steps and jumping off couches and beds, thinking themselves invincible.  This time we weren’t waiting, and went to the VMC right away.   After examination, Arlie was diagnosed with a slipped disc, and once again needed surgery.  Dr. Robinson was quite surprised that he had a disc injury again, as it was extremely rare but not unheard of.  So once again, Arlie began a regimen of acupuncture and therapy, which continues to this day.  However, he is a strong fighter and although his gait is still a bit wobbly, he handles it like a champ.  My husband carries him up and down stairs, we watch him relentlessly so that he doesn’t jump off the couch.  When he needs his alone time, we also have a playpen set up with lots of soft blankets in our family room.  

Arlie 3.jpg

Arlie never ceases to amaze us with his attitude.  Although he has endured much pain and hardship in his short life of seven years, he takes his handicap in stride and achieves a quality of life on his own terms.  When he is tired, he rests; when he is happy, his tail wags like a propeller; and when he needs something, he “talks” until we figure out what he wants.  And when he cuddles with us and he looks at us with his big brown eyes, no words are sufficient or necessary.   We love him with all of our heart, and look forward to many happy years with him and Jamis.

With a grateful heart-   Arlie’s Mom and Dad


July 2017 Patient of the Month


Mojo is a rescue dog from Hilton Head, South Carolina. His mom adopted him in 2009… it was love at first sight with this handsome boy. From the moment she saw “the spot,” she knew, he was “her dog.” Despite his crazy behavior during her visit to his foster home where he chased the family cat, pooped in the house and demonstrated terrible leash manners, she packed him up and drove him to Charleston to meet his new family. He sat in her lap the whole way home and never looked back.

In 2011, his mom and dad were married and moved in to a new home. Being his first “real house” with a big yard to run in was very exciting. So exciting, that he implemented a very specific routine of running circles through the house and yard. During one of his routines, he slipped on a rug. It was like a scene from a movie for his mom, who watched it happen in what seemed like slow motion. He seemed fine at first but within a few days, his mom and dad noticed he was no longer following them upstairs. He would sit at the bottom of the staircase and cry instead. Within 24 hours he could barely walk and yelped in pain when his parents tried to pick him up. His mom took him to the vet who did some radiographs but found nothing and prescribed him pain management pills with strict crate rest. Within a few days, he was all better!

In 2012, Mojo experienced more exciting life changes when he got a new baby French Bulldog brother and another new home in Syracuse, NY. His first day here he was so excited to find that NY squirrels are about twice the size of SC squirrels! excited that he exited the moving truck and chased the giant squirrels through the woods and fell into a pond. He is not the most graceful of dogs.

Outside of the giant squirrels, the move to Syracuse turned out to be a blessing because of the staff and doctors at Veterinary Medical Center. In 2013, Mojo was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease or “IVDD.”

IVDD is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst (herniate) into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis.”

In Mojo’s case, his symptoms of IVDD can be very scary. It always begins the same with his hesitance to use stairs and he becomes a little withdrawn. He starts dragging his legs and feet behind him, he won’t be able to walk and he will be in a lot of pain. He won’t feel his feet even the doctors pinch really hard. Mojo had an emergencyat VMC in 2013 and luckily, within a few months he made a full recovery! He lived a normal happy (spoiled) dog life until his symptoms returned worse than ever in 2014. This time he was not able to relieve himself and refused to eat or drink. It was a very grim and heartbreaking visit to VMC but Mojo also met Doctor Burnett and Lis Conarton for the first time which turned out to be life-changing. Together, Mojo’s team of his parents, Doctor Burnett and Lis all worked together to implement a treatment plan that literally saved his life. A second surgery was not an option, so he began medicine and physical therapy. Mojo made tremendous progress with this plan. Within 24 hours he was eating, drinking and able to relieve himself and continued to improve from there. Within a month we added acupuncture and he was able to feel his feet and legs and stand a little on his own and wag his tail again! Within 6 months he could walk again without assistance.

It’s almost like clockwork; once a year Mojo will have an episode, but thankfully he has Doctor Burnett and Lis to help with his treatment and ongoing therapy so these episodes and his symptoms are MUCH more manageable. As of February 2017, Mojo has made it 6 months without an episode! He is still the happiest dog in the world and he LOVES his preventative therapy visits to VMC. He still needs a little help from his parents and a harness to help with stairs, jumping and for when he gets SUPERexcited and can’t control his tail wags, but that’s no problem for his family. Today, he can walk, run and do all of his normal crazy dog things including chasing these huge NY squirrels. 

                             ~The Arcia Family


VMC's May Patient of the Month

Petunia's Story


Petunia was the runt of her litter and we believe that is why her spirit is especially strong.  Since the day she came home with her brother Ruben, she has made it very clear that she is the alpha.  Although she may be tiny, she has always gone out of her way to prove that she is the ruler of the roost. It is especially humorous since Ruben and the rest of the animals could not care less.

At her very first vet visit, the doctor warned that she was a 'lemon' and she should be returned to the breeder. Obviously, this was out of the question.  Shortly after several consultations, she was taken to Los Angeles at just 3 months old to have surgery on her heart.  The procedure was very successful, reducing her heart murmur significantly. We were so relieved and Petunia's new strength was remarkable. Growing up in Sunny San Diego, the two Frenchies frequented dog beaches and parks; playing fetch was their favorite thing to do!  Petunia was fast and coordinated, bounding to get her ball. Unlike her brother who often tumbled and fumbled the ball -- he usually held on to it for dear life, knowing Petunia would happily have both balls to herself.

It was not until Petunia was 9 years old that she showed a change in her gait.  At first it was just once and a while, when running full speed for her ball, that her hind legs would go limp. She hardly seemed to notice and would still propel herself for the ball.  After several similar occurrences, we decided to have her seen by a neurosurgeon in Northern San Diego. After examining her, it was predicted that she had bulging discs in two parts of her spine. An MRI would confirm if surgery was even an option, knowing that surgery would only prevent more damage from being done, but would not reverse any of the immobility that she was already experiencing. With Petunia's heart condition and age, anesthesia for the MRI was not encouraged, let alone for the intensive surgery that may follow. The doctors noted that any pain she was experiencing was not affecting her attitude or eating habits and that we should proceed by minimizing her exertion at the park and try some anti-inflammatories to see if that may relieve any pressure in her spinal column. She tested out some mild steroids with little benefits.

Meanwhile, a move to Boston was in process and soon she met with the doctors at Angell Medical Hospital.  First she saw the neurosurgeons and heart specialist, seeking second opinions and advice on how to proceed.  At this point she was becoming more and more wobbly in her hips- coined as 'drunken sailor' movement.  Her spirit was still strong, but she was not able to move like she once had.  After concluding that any operation was too risky with no guarantee of positive results, she went to see Dr. Lisa Moses for acupuncture. After Petunia's first visit with Dr. Moses, she was noticeably more comfortable and showed strong action in her hind quarters. She found relief from pain and reduced inflammation immediately and it seemed like a miracle. As almost two years passed, Petunia's condition did continue to worsen, as expected.  She tried out water therapy and was fitted for some wheels. Still, it was obvious how much she rebounded after acupuncture. Her relief was visible and her love for Dr. Moses was palpable.

Petunia and Ruben 2

When Petunia moved to the Syracuse area, Dr. Moses recommended the VMC and Dr. Fleckenstein. For almost a year now she has been working with Dr. Fleckenstein and Lis. For the first time she was given exercises and stretches to work on at home. She started taking Chinese Herbs and has minimized her steroid intake, with positive results.  She looks forward to her weekly visits to see Dr. Fleckenstein, Sue, and our other lovely assistants. With ample treats and comfy bedding always set up, Ruben enjoys almost as much pampering when he comes along to accompany his sister. Together, we are all forever grateful for their tender and thoughtful care.  We simply cannot thank you enough!

~Gregg Family


  • Hind Limb Paraparesis Secondary to Presumptive Intervertebral Disc Disease and Congenital Vertebral Abnormalities


  • Acupuncture, Electroacupuncture & Lacer Acupuncture for Pain, Nerve Stimulation, Heart Disease, Urinary and Immune Support & General Well Being.
  • Methyl Prednisone, Gabapentin, Chinese Herbal Formula—Loranthus Powder
  • Canine Cart
  • Under Water Treadmill, Low Level Laser Therapy for muscle spasms and Home Exercise & Stretching Program including Home Water Therapy

September 2015 VMC Pain Management Patient of the Month

Daffodil's Story


This little gem is Daffodil. Where do I begin? She is a 5 year old Peke-a-Poo and also the love of my life. Two years ago, I noticed that my very crazy and feisty baby was weepy and cowering. When I went to pick up her 10 pound little self, she bit me with the force of a dog 10 times her size! The mad dash to the Veterinary Medical Center was under way. There it was determined that she had injured her long Pekingese spine somehow (she loved to chase her cat Apple). The decision was clear and she underwent back surgery with Dr. Robinson. The surgery was a success and her surgeon Dr. Robinson thankfully quite the miracle worker. The healing process was a long and bumpy road. My employer, Dr. Jackson was so good to grant me 12 weeks of work from home. I was able to be with Daffodil around the clock. She had temporary hind leg paralysis and a difficult time going potty. Today, we visit Daffodil’s two very best girls, Dr. Burnett and Lis Conarton, on a monthly basis at VMC. She gets the spa treatment which includes laser therapy, a nice massage, acupuncture and of course lots of treats and kisses. Daffodil is doing fantastic and such a happy baby I cannot brag enough about the many people who have helped us on our journey. Although I hope to never have to need them again, I am so very blessed that I have them if I do! Love, Christina (Daffodil’s mommy)

Daffodil's Problems:

  • Previous Femoral Head Osteotomy
  • Invertebral Disc Disease
  • Post Operative Hemilaminectomy
  • Myofascial Compensatory Pain
  • Muscle Spasms

Current Treatment:

  • Multi Modal Pain Management
  • Acupuncture
  • Low Level Laser Therapy
  • Massage & Mobilization
  • Home Exercise Program


June 2015 VMC Pain Management Patient of the Month

Puccini's Story Puccini

My husband and I are proud owners of our 11 year old standard poodle named Puccini. Since Puccini was the runt of a litter of six, he weighs only 42 pounds, whereas, typically, the breed weighs between 60-70 pounds. During Puccini’s initial veterinary visit, Dr. Davis at Lyndon Veterinary Clinic, advised us that sometimes the runt of a litter can develop a variety of health challenges. Clearly, this has proven to be so for our dog. Beginning as early as 3 yrs. old, Dr. Davis diagnosed Puccini with hip dysplasia, with the right hip significantly worse than the left. Just looking at the x-ray of Puccini’s right hip, Dr. Davis commented, “you wouldn’t think he could walk.” Dr. Davis prescribed Cosequin double strength twice a day, and he modified Puccini’s playtime eliminating the run/stop action which was bad for his back legs. In 2009, Dr. Davis diagnosed Puccini with Intervertebral Disc Disease. Dr. Davis referred us to Cornell Companion Animal Hospital where they discovered that Puccini’s hind limb muscles had atrophied. At that time, they recommended Lis Conarton and the Physical Rehabilitation Service at the Veterinary Medical Center. Lis evaluated Puccini, and provided us with a thorough understanding of the problems and challenges he may encounter. She highlighted the various techniques she would use on Puccini including: laser therapy; the underwater treadmill; the “agility course”; and the importance of addressing the Myofascial Trigger Points (muscle knots). We were impressed with Lis—her breadth of knowledge, her professional demeanor, her patience, and Puccini who doesn’t like meeting people warmed right up to her immediately. Lis has been able to markedly improve Puccini’s muscle strength and maintain his muscle mass. Due to Puccini’s aging process, Lis has continually modified his rehab sessions, along with the home exercise program. She informs Dr. Davis of her observations about Puccini which has produced a “winning team” for our dog. We are convinced that Puccini’s quality of life is very good because of Lis. We are not taking anything away from Dr. Davis, who is a great veterinarian, but Lis has skills that are not widely available. We refer to Lis as the “animal whisperer”. Lis is an amazing and talented young woman, who possesses the desire to stay abreast of everything related to her profession. We are always recommending the VMC and Lis to anyone who has an animal in need, because she treats each animal as if she is the owner. To this day, we count our blessings that physical rehabilitation is available in Syracuse and that a highly knowledgeable, competent, and talented woman by the name of Lis Conarton manages the area. ~Puccini’s Family


  • 11 year old Standard Poodle
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Cervical Disc Disease/Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Right Cruciate Ligament Strain
  • Compensatory Muscle Strain & Myofascial Trigger Points
  • Irritable Bowel Disease

Current Treatments

Weekly Rehabilitation Sessions Including:

  • Hydrotherapy Exercise
  • Under Water Treadmill
  • Low Level Laser Therapy
  • Joint Mobilization
  • Massage Including-Myofascial Trigger Point Release
  • Home Exercise Program
  • Home Massage Program