Cruciate Ligament injuries
“We help people who are worried about their dog’s health and want their dog to lead a
more active, normal and pain free life!”
What is a cruciate ligament?
There are two cruciate ligaments found in the knee: the cranial cruciate ligament is located in the centre of the knee and the caudal cruciate ligament is located at the back of the knee. It is common for the cranial cruciate ligament to rupture in dogs, whereas it is uncommon to have issues with the caudal cruciate ligament. These ligaments are like strong pieces of rope, which connect the femur (the bone at the top of the leg) to the tibia (the bone at the bottom of the leg) and allow the knee joint to work successfully as a hinge. The ligament can worsen over time, much like a fraying rope, or it can suddenly rupture completely due to an injury. Often it happens when our dogs are simply skidding, twisting, or jumping for a ball or toy..
How do I recognise a cruciate injury in my dog?
Symptoms depend on the breed of dog and the severity of the ligament rupture, and can vary from a slight limp to not being able to place down the leg at all, so look out for these things:
- limping/ lameness with either of the back legs
- stiffness of the back legs, especially when arising or sitting down.
- An unusual gait
- swelling over the knee joint
- unwillingness to exercise
The management or solution to a cruciate injury depends on the severity of the rupture. In severe cases, your veterinarian may suggest surgery, but conservative management can often be used to avoid this and is a less invasive option. When surgery is the correct option for your pet, hydrotherapy and/or physiotherapy can be used pre and post surgery to help speed up recovery, although this would be hugely tailored around your pet’s surgery and how they are recovering. Gentle veterinary physiotherapy sessions and/or laser or pulse mag therapy may be more suitable at first, until your pet can manage more strenuous exercise in our hydrotherapy department.
Unfortunately, due to the strain and weight put on the opposite, healthy limb, the cruciate ligament can often also rupture in the other leg. If the dog has undergone physiotherapy/ hydrotherapy, the muscle will be built up around both the knee joints, taking strain off the ligaments, and lowering the chance of this happening.
Conservative management includes:
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight prevents any extra strain on your dog’s joints and ligaments. Feel free to ask us in the clinic about how to help your dog lose or maintain a healthy weight – we’re more than happy to help!
Controlled exercise regime
It is important to make sure your dog doesn’t over-exercise and cause themselves any undue pain afterwards. Your dog will receive a tailored exercise plan from one of our experienced veterinary physiotherapists during their appointments.
Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatories and pain relief to help with the management of a cruciate ligament injury.
Dogs who have suffered a cruciate ligament injury are at high risk of going on to develop osteoarthritis. This is because when the cruciate ligament is damaged, it can result in a change in the way the joint moves, damaging the meniscus – a cartilage which acts as a cushion inside the joint. Joint supplements can help lubricate the joints and may slow down the process of this. If you’re unsure about what to buy, we can advise.
What we can do to help
One of our knowledgeable veterinary physiotherapists will examine your dog’s movement and posture, and then design a tailored plan to help target your dog’s individual needs and get them back to feeling more like their happier, pain-free selves. This will include a home exercise plan for you to follow at home, which is extremely important and will work alongside the plan we will carry out in the clinic.
Our veterinary physiotherapists can carry out LASER therapy on your beloved furry friend. This is where we use light at different frequencies, wavelengths and powers to optimise the body’s natural healing process. The light energy passes through the skin and then into the cells, initiating a process called photobiostimulation, similar to the photosynthesis process in plants. As well as optimising the body’s natural regeneration process, it also encourages the body to release endorphins and collagen, and improves blood circulation, in turn then increasing mobility and reducing pain and swelling.
Pulse magnetic therapy
You may have already heard us talking about ‘Pulse Mag’ in the clinic or elsewhere. This uses pulsed electromagnetic fields at different frequencies, because the cells in our bodies all have different electrical charges that change when cells are damaged. Pulse magnetic therapy returns the damaged cells to their ‘healthy’ electrical charge. This then optimises ‘normal’ cellular processes, meaning we can achieve an improved rate of healing bone, nerves and soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, muscles, skin) as well as providing pain relief.
Hydrotherapy is extremely beneficial in helping either manage or heal a cruciate ligament injury. We are very lucky at BARC to be able to offer both a hydrotherapy pool and two underwater treadmills, both allowing specific benefits to your woofers The warmth of the water is soothing for aching joints and can help relax tight muscles, which helps relieve pain, while the buoyancy provides support, making it easier for your dog to exercise and create normal movement patterns. While exercising in the water, your dog is moving against the resistance, which helps build muscle, which most likely will have been lost due to lack of exercise from pain from the cruciate injury. If you’ve ever waded through the sea, you will probably remember how much hard work it was, which is why we start with gentle sessions and slowly increase them over time. The water also provides a hydrostatic pressure, so when your dog is submerged in the water this will help reduce swelling, allowing more movement in the joint and decrease pain.
Enquire about getting started
We know you want the best of the best for your dog, and we also know you’re a busy person. If you want to get your dog back to being happier, healthier and doing what you both love and want to get booked in – click on the link below and fill out the short form for information about getting booked in and availability.
Enquire about free taster session
Not sure? No problem! Why not bring your dog in for a free, non-obligatory session in which we see what’s wrong, what can be done so you have all the information you need and start getting both you and your dog feeling more optimistic about the future? We mean it – no fees, no obligation, nothing: all we want is to meet you and to say ‘hi’ to your best friend. Click the link below to get booked in, now.
Talk to a Vet Physiotherapist
We know how difficult it is to trust someone else when it comes to the health of your dog. It’s just so hard. So, that’s exactly why we also know how important it is for you to ask all the questions you have, find out all the answers you need, and for you and your dog to trust us. So, give us a call to chat to one of our Vet Physio. We’d love to meet you and find out more about how we can help your dog, right now, just click the link below.