If your furry friend is suffering from knee pain due to a torn cruciate ligament, which is similar to ACL injuries in humans, surgical intervention may be the most effective option for treatment. Our vets in Weldon Spring will discuss three surgical approaches for managing this prevalent knee injury in dogs.
Knee Injuries in Dogs
Ensuring your dog's knees are properly functioning and pain-free is crucial for their overall health and happiness. Just like with humans, good nutrition and appropriate physical activity are key to maintaining knee health in dogs.
Despite the availability of high-quality dog foods and supplements that can aid joint health, cruciate ligament injuries, also known as ACL injuries, can still occur and cause significant knee pain. These injuries can happen suddenly during play or develop gradually over time.
What is the cranial cruciate ligament (ACL) in dogs?
Your dog's leg has two ligaments, and one of them is called the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). This ligament connects the two major leg bones and enables your dog's knee to function correctly and without discomfort.
What is tibial thrust?
When your dog has a torn cruciate ligament, pain arises from instability within the knee and a motion called 'tibial thrust.'
Tibial thrust is a harmful sliding motion that occurs when your dog's weight is transferred up their shin and across their knee, resulting in their shin thrusting forward. The sloped top of their tibia causes this action and the inability of their injured ligament to prevent this painful movement.
What are the signs of a ligament injury in dogs?
If your dog is experiencing knee pain as a result of a cruciate ligament injury, they may have difficulty performing certain movements like walking or running. It's important to also keep an eye out for other symptoms of knee injuries.
- Reluctance to exercise or climb stairs
- Difficulties rising up off of the floor
- Limping in their hind legs
- Stiffness following exercise
Can surgery repair my dog's knee injury?
Dogs can experience painful ligament injuries that do not heal on their own. If your furry friend is displaying symptoms of a torn ligament, it's crucial to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment before the condition worsens.
It's common for dogs with a torn cruciate ligament in one leg to injure the same ligament in the other leg. If your dog has a torn cruciate ligament, your vet may suggest one of three knee surgeries to restore their mobility.
ELSS / ECLS - Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization
- This knee surgery is often used to treat smaller dogs that weigh less than 50 pounds, and works by preventing the tibial thrust with the help of a surgically placed suture. The suture stabilizes your pup's knee by pulling the joint tight and preventing the front-to-back sliding of the tibia so that the ligament has time to heal and the muscles surrounding the knee have an opportunity to regain their strength.
TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy
- TPLO reduces tibial thrust without having to rely on a dog's cruciate. TPLO surgery involves making a complete cut through the top of your dog's shin bone (called their tibial plateau) and then rotating the tibial plateau in order to change its angle. A metal plate will then be added to the area where the cut was made in order to stabilize the bone as it heals. Over several months, your dog's leg will gradually heal to regain their strength and mobility.
TTA - Tibial Tuberosity Advancement
- TTA surgery involves separating the front part of the tibia from the rest of the bone, then adding a spacer between the two sections to move the front section of the tibia up and forward. This can help to prevent much of the tibia thrust movement from occurring. A bone plate will be attached to hold the front section of the tibia in its new corrected position until the bone has had adequate time to heal.
Which type of knee surgery is right for my dog?
To properly assess your dog's knee, a veterinarian can conduct a comprehensive examination of its movement and structure, taking into account various factors such as age, weight, size, and lifestyle.
After evaluating your pet's condition, the vet can suggest the most appropriate treatment, which may include surgery to treat the knee injury.
How long will it take for my dog to recover from knee surgery?
Recovering from knee surgery is a time-consuming process that demands patience. Although some dogs can walk within 24 hours after the surgery, it takes at least 16 weeks or more to recover and resume regular activities fully.
It is essential to follow your vet's post-operative instructions diligently to ensure that your dog returns to normal activities safely and swiftly while minimizing the possibility of re-injury to the knee.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.