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Knee injuries, joint pain and other orthopedic maladies can be incredibly painful for pets. Whether your pet’s condition is due to natural wear and tear (e.g., arthritis) or a traumatic injury (e.g., a cranial cruciate ligament tear), orthopedic care can help effectively manage this pain and support the internal healing process. Our veterinarians offer a variety of different orthopedic treatments. University Veterinary Hospital also works with a traveling board-certified veterinary surgeon who comes to the hospital to perform orthopedic surgery. Depending on your pet’s needs, a combination of treatment techniques can help your pet get back on the road to good health.
Joint and knee problems can be triggered for a variety of reasons. Just like in humans, regular wear and tear can take a toll on your pet’s body. Many older pets develop arthritis, making it painful for them to run, jump, play games and walk up or down stairs. Cruciate ligament problems due to degeneration are a primary cause for joint pain; the ligament slowly deteriorates over time, causing joint instability and arthritis. Developmental problems, such as hip dysplasia, can also cause joint dysfunction.
While joint pain can affect all pets, in general, the larger and heavier a pet is, the greater risk that animal has for developing joint dysfunction. Hip dysplasia is the abnormal formation of the hip socket that can ultimately lead to crippling lameness and painful arthritis. Elbow dysplasia is an orthopedic condition characterized by multiple degenerative abnormalities in the elbow-joint cartilage. Both hip and elbow dysplasia are more likely to affect certain breeds and larger dogs, including Labrador Retrievers and Bernese Mountain dogs.
A cruciate ligament tear is one of the most common knee problems. This debilitating condition affects the canine knee joint; a repetitive micro-injury to the ligament causes it to stretch and eventually tear. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) normally keeps the femur in place between the knee and stabilizing knee joint; when the ACL tears, it can be incredibly painful for pets to move. Dogs can also tear the medial collateral ligament (MCL), causing pain, swelling and difficulty bending the knee.
Depending on the severity of your pet’s orthopedic injury, surgery may be the best option. Even if only a portion of the ligament is torn, the entire ligament may have sustained serious damage. Orthopedic surgery can repair to a torn cruciate ligament and restore joint function for hip or elbow dysplasia. The recovery process for surgery can be lengthy; consequently, orthopedic surgery is not always recommended for older dogs. Our veterinarian will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your pet.
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