Cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common hind limb orthopaedic injuries seen in dogs. Located within the knee joint, there are two ligaments which connect the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and stabilise the knee. Without these ligaments, the bones in the knee would slide around during activity causing damage to the knee joint and surrounding soft tissues.
Cruciate ligament injury can occur for several reasons. Some dogs rupture their ligament suddenly due to trauma, whilst other dog’s ligaments stretch out and degenerate gradually. Excessive weight is a risk factor for cruciate ligament injury as the ligament can become weakened over time due to the heavy load on the joint. Some breeds are also more susceptible to degeneration of the ligament. Commonly cruciate ligament rupture occurs in medium to large breed dogs over four years of age.
When cruciate ligament rupture occurs it causes severe pain and inflammation in the knee and symptoms of rupture include lameness, toe touching (the dog will just touch the toe to the ground but not weight bear on the leg), reluctance to walk or exercise, whimpering or yelping especially when the dog bears weight on the affected leg. In some chronic cases a reduction of muscle mass around the knee is noticeable.
Cruciate ligament injury can be diagnosed by physical examination of the leg. As affected animals are often very sore, your pet may require sedation or anaesthesia to examine the joint thoroughly. X-rays are often taken of the affected joint to identify any other problems such as arthritis or fractures before surgery.
With a 90% success rate, in most cases, surgery is the treatment of choice and there are many surgical options available. The type of procedure performed on your pet will be dependent on an individual case by case basis and will be discussed after your pet’s examination.
For more information about cruciate ligament rupture or to book a consultation, please contact the clinic.