Recovering from Cruciate surgery takes time, but with regular treatment sessions with Elona, our practice physiotherapist, Chase is making a great recovery. Today has been cool enough for Chase to have his treatment in our garden at the practice!
“Both my Westies had this op but with care and plenty of tlc they both made a full recovery !” Jan (Facebook)
Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture
What is the Cranial Cruciate Ligament?
There are actually two cruciate ligaments, located in the middle of the stifle (knee). They cross over one another (hence the name) and prevent the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) sliding backwards and forwards in relation to one another.
Rupture of the (cranial) cruciate ligament is very common in dogs, less so in cats, and causes lameness and the development of osteoarthritis.
Why does it rupture?
The reason the cruciate ligament ruptures is usually not clear. Very few cases in dogs appear to result from injury, which is the usual cause in humans. Two major populations are seen in dogs: middle – aged dogs, where the ligament may just wear out due to age and young dogs, where certain features of anatomy, posture and gait possibly over – load the ligament, causing it to fail prematurely.
In over half of affected dogs, both stifles will become involved at some stage. The ligament may rupture suddenly, in which case lameness also develops suddenly or, more often, it gradually frays and may only partially rupture. This still causes pain and lameness.
What happens when the cruciate ligament ruptures?
When the cruciate ruptures, due to the slope at the top of the tibia (the tibial plateau) abnormal sliding movement in the stifle is possible i.e. it “gives way” on weightbearing.
This is painful and produces a common clinical picture whereby, if exercise is limited, lameness is reduced but, if exercise is increased, lameness gets worse.
Muscle bulk on the front of the thigh is reduced and the stifle becomes swollen. Osteoarthritis always develops to some extent.
How do we treat it?
Some dogs can recover spontaneously, but usually only if they weigh less than 12 – 15kg. West Highland White terriers are a common exception to this rule. Spontaneous recovery can take 2-4 months. Larger dogs rarely cope well without surgery.