Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Member

Jeryl C Jones, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Julia L Sharp

Committee Member

Tiffany A Wilmoth


Core (paraspinal) muscle strengthening exercises are increasingly applied as methods for management of lower back pain in military working dogs. However, more evidence-based studies are needed to justify these methods. A previous publication correlated increased flexion/extension changes in lumbosacral intervertebral foraminal area (positional foraminal stenosis) with lower back pain in dogs. Aims of this thesis project were to test hypotheses that 1) lumbosacral paraspinal muscle areas will be associated with positional changes in inter-vertebral foraminal areas, 2) muscle areas will significantly differ by positioning, and 3) lumbosacral angles and range of motion values will significantly differ by measurement technique. A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted using archived computed tomography (CT) scans of the lumbosacral region in 39 military working Labrador Retrievers. Scans had been acquired for another research project, using standardized flexion and extension positioning. For the current study, CT scans were retrieved and a single observer performed triplicate measurements of transverse sectional areas for the vertebral body and each paraspinal muscle at three vertebral locations, for both right and left sides, and for both flexion and extension positions. Vertebral body areas were used for calculation of muscle area ratios. The same observer also measured intervertebral foraminal areas for both sides and both positions at each vertebral location, using 2 previously published techniques. A second observer recorded lumbosacral angles in both positions using 2 previously published techniques. In consultation with a statistician, mean values for each variable were calculated and compared. Very weak associations were found for mean muscle area ratios and absolute intervertebral foraminal area percent change. Significant differences were identified between flexion/extension positions for all mean muscle area ratios. Significant differences between technique 1 and technique 2 were found in both flexion and extension for mean lumbosacral angles. Mean values for lumbosacral range of motion did not significantly differ by measurement technique. These findings indicated that core muscle strengthening exercises may not be the most effective way of managing dogs with positional foraminal stenosis. Findings also indicated that patient positioning and lumbosacral angle measurement techniques should be standardized for future studies when determining the effectiveness of exercise prescriptions.



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