Canine Acl Injury – How Are They Treated?
Torn ACLs in dogs and cats are very common injuries. They happen when the force of a sudden, lateral knock or blow to the front side of a knee (the anterior cruciate ligament) occurs. This can occur when jumping, landing awkwardly, or getting hit by a ball. A torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in dogs and cats is often a secondary (following) injury following a traumatic event. It is not the ligament injury itself that is bad. It is the abnormal shape and movement of the bone and the cartilage that are at fault.
The cartilage inside the tibia changes its shape with age
becoming deformed due to wear and tear. It then eventually snaps, when the bone is hit by an object. In many cases where the ACL has been injured and cannot be treated, the damage is fixed but the cartilage will never regain its normal shape. If it does grow back, it will always be a bit uneven and may never be as good as before. This is where cruciate surgery in dogs and cats can be beneficial.
Torn ACLs in dogs
are classified according to the severity of the injury. There are four classifications of partial or total ACL tears: grade I, grade II, III, and IV. Most dogs are placed in the second group, which as you might expect, has the least serious symptoms.
Treatment of acute injuries usually involves exercise
and physiotherapy, as well as pain management and anti-inflammatory medications if necessary. Treatment may also include cortisone injections to reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, grades IV and V ACL injuries are very rare and do not always respond to physiotherapy. Severe cases may require open surgery with an implantation procedure. Physical therapy, joint replacement, and surgery are the standard treatments.
For more severe cases, conservative management
should be pursued first. As with any injury to the knee, preventing further damage is best achieved by avoiding repeated episodes of jumping, landing poorly, or making repetitive motions. Preventative care includes avoiding too much activity or using shoes that fit properly. In addition, regularly stretching and icing the affected area will help to reduce ligament injuries.
Another problem with canine ACL injuries
is osteonecrosis or bone degeneration. Osteonecrosis is caused by repeated trauma to the knee and most dogs with this condition eventually lose their ability to move their legs. Preventative care including weight loss and exercise helps to prevent osteonecrosis. Treatment includes cortisone injections to control inflammation and the replacement of the ligaments.