Many lame dogs have more in common with AFL footballers than you would think! At the clinic we frequently examine dogs that are suddenly limping or sore in one of their back legs. Often the diagnosis made is a damaged anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee joint, the same injury that footballers can suffer. The ACL consists of a tough fibrous band connecting the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). Rupture or straining of this ligament causes an unstable and painful knee joint and eventually leads to bony changes called arthritis. Active, overweight and middle aged dogs are probably at highest risk of cruciate disease, however any pet including cats can be affected. Often the owner has noticed a sudden lameness after running, jumping or playing. Treatment will depend on the severity of the lameness, size of the pet and their normal activity levels. Smaller dogs, under 10 kg bodyweight, will often do very well with strict rest, anti-inflammatory medication and a course of arthritis injections. Larger pets will typically require major orthopaedic surgery to examine and stabilise the knee joint. There are several different surgical techniques to correct cruciate disease now available. Dr Joe performs some cruciate surgeries or we have Dr Wing Tip Wong an orthopaedic surgeon visit the clinic to treat our patients. This is Nelly the pug X who is being managed medically for ACL rupture at the clinic.
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