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Is it a pinched nerve or broken back? UPDATE 10/15

Diagnosing and treating rabbit ailments. *Caution! These threads may contain graphic content.*
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Is it a pinched nerve or broken back? UPDATE 10/15

Post Number:#1  Unread postby macksmom98 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:28 pm


I have a doe that is acting funny. She can eat and drink and move around some, but shes holding her back funny. She seems to be having trouble with one side and she looks almost a little twisted. She can make the step up and down into her nest box. I thought about culling but shes pedigreed and a show bunny, so I want to be sure that she cant heal before I do that. From what I can tell shes peeing and pooping as normal too. She wont be bred, that's how I realized something was wrong with her to begin with. I don't recall any kind of injury or cant think of anything else that happened to her. My kids haven't messed with her either. This is the first of this type of injury we have had. Thoughts?
Last edited by macksmom98 on Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:58 am


If she's able to hop around and so forth, her spine is not broken. A broken spine, from all I've heard, results in at least partial paralysis and often loss of control of bladder and bowels. Her spine may be bruised or she may have some other injury. I seem to have heard that some diseases can cause mobility problems, but sorry to say I am not up on that aspect of the problem.

I'd take a look at her cage and see if you can make things as easy as possible for her so that she has a better chance of healing. And get a good supply of willow twigs so she can self-medicate for pain as needed. The twigs can be kept fresh by putting them in a jar with their cut ends in water. Baby aspirin can also be used for pain relief, but you will have to look up the dosage. With willow trees a lot closer to us than the drug store, I have never used it.

An alternative is to take her to a vet for x-rays and diagnostics, but unless you have a plump pocket and a rabbit-savvy vet available, it is probably not a viable route to go.

Good luck with her . . . and please update so we can all learn from her unfortunate experience.
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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby macksmom98 » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:31 pm


After I posted this I did rule out broken back, because of exactly what you said. Something I found said it could be bruised. I am afraid to mess with her much because I know if shes in pain I wont really be able to tell. I am encouraged that she can still move and eat. I think if it was really bad she wouldn't have the means or desire to do that.

I am going to try baby aspirin, as I have no idea what willow bark looks like or where I could find some locally. Hopefully an anti inflammatory will help her pain and any swelling. Poor girl! Honest I first thought she was being a little lethargic then I realized she was holding that side funny. I did see her bottom feel shaking a bit, so that tells me shes got some kind of movement there.

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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:58 pm


You know your local conditions far better than I could possibly do, but there should be a species of willow somewhere not too far away from you. It likes moisture so along rivers and streams is a good location. Any member of the Salix family will work. The nice thing about willow bark is that rabbits like it and can't really overdose on it because it is also a safe food. If you're in a residential area, weeping willow is a good bet and is very easy to identify.

Baby aspirin will work too, but may be harder to get the rabbit to take. It could be dissolved in water and syringed into her mouth if you have trouble.

Listen for tooth grinding, as that is a sign of significant pain. It may help tell you the severity of her injury.

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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby akane » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:57 pm


Willow is easy to ID because they all have fairly unique leaves and I don't think anything mimics weeping willow branches but all willow are rare here and I prefer a measured amount of things anyway. Hopefully it's swelling that can go away but single side issues are probably riskier for recovery because of the expanded possible problems. Neurological issues are more often one of the first things to think of. If it's not an infection though they can more often live and possibly even breed normal with a single side affected since like you saw the internal organs are less often involved instead of just joint/muscle failure. Once any pain from the incident resolves everything works fine to continue their life even if they don't heal to normal. It depends how badly they are restricted and that would unfortunately end a show career if it can't repair. There's not a whole lot you can do without vet xrays and so forth except reduce pain and swelling, avoid quick movements or twisting that could increase injury, and watch for any localized symptoms that might show you a specific problem. If she's not in distress nerve damage of any type can take weeks to show improvement. I've had small animals suffer symptoms for months and then spend years with no sign anything ever happened.
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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby macksmom98 » Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:02 pm


Wow, thank you both for your comments. She was more active this evening, hopefully not too much to hurt herself further. I am encouraged by that, and although she moved better she still wasn't normal for that side. Ill research what willow looks like, and see if we can find some. Weeping Willow would be easy to spot, although I haven't seen any in our area. Mostly Palm, Oak, and Mesquite trees. I will search for that. If it does end her show career I would retire her but possibly try to see if she could still be bred. Her lines are good and I would love to see what would come out of her and our show Buck. We purchased her in the summer and have never bred them yet. But her overall health is the most important and priority.

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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby LittleFluffyBunnies » Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:49 am


If it is a bruised spinal cord the best treatment is confinement. I've had 2 rabbits with bruised spinal cords who had partial paralysis, so that they could move but not properly. I blocked off a corner of their cage so that they couldn't move very much. After about a week they were completely healed.
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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby akane » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:47 am


They don't need fully restricted if they aren't a real active, nervous sort. Bolting over something or kicking out and twisting when handled are probably the main risks. Most caged rabbits I know and even typical meat breeds in the space of a small colony do a lot of lounging and a little travel to food and water. I only pulled them out of colonies for most injuries because of the risk of other rabbits doing something that forced them to run or kick out and sometimes if I had a lot of younger ones growing out they would turn the colony into a full 12' square or 24' rectangle if I had the divider down bunny blender over silly things. If it weren't for other rabbit interaction and spooking over things they still mostly lounged various places and made unhurried trips to food and water as necessary.
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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby macksmom98 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:49 pm


She’s caged outside with a wooden nest box attached to the side of her cage. She’s normally not super flighty, but she sometimes will hop quickly to her box. I obviously want her to heal and not re-injure it. The first couple of days I noticed her in her box a lot, and acting like she didn’t want to move much. The past couple shes been out lounging and cleaning herself more, which I am taking as a good sign that’s she’s at least feeling better. She’s also moving around better.

-- Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:49 pm --

UPDATE-Still moving around and normally active. I decided to pick her up and flip her over to see if she is able to clean her bum and what she looked like. She was just wet down there, but no sticky or poo in her hair. The one leg just looked very floopy and un responsive, like she had no control. The other leg seemed normal, and moved/shook a little (that's normal for her, probably nervousness from being held) when she was turned over. Gave her kisses and nose rubs then put her back in the cage. I just don't know how long to expect it to look like that, thinking of maybe making a vet visit but not sure that wouldn't aggravate her more being in a carrier in the car. Trying to decide if its work the hurt to her and cost to me....

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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back? UPDATE 10/15

Post Number:#10  Unread postby TeaTimeBunnies » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:55 pm


I wonder if the floppy leg got dislocated
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Re: Is it a pinched nerve or broken back? UPDATE 10/15

Post Number:#11  Unread postby macksmom98 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:42 am


I thought about that too. I just don’t know. I would assume a dislocation would be better off being seen sooner than later. A bruised back would be better off given time. Difficult to know what to do.

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