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OA is one of the most common causes of lameness in dogs one study performed in 2018 showed that over 80% of dogs over the age of 8 years had OA to some degree.
It is usually secondary to a primary cause like Hip Dysplasia or an injury.
It triggers a biological cascade of events that eventually, causes the protective cartilage at the ends of the bones to deteriorates and loosing that protection, enables the bones to rub together, causing damage.
OA can occur in any joint (you can see the OA on the right of the image).
· Lameness/ Stiffness
· Reluctance to jump/go up steps
· Reduced exercise tolerance
· Decreased joint mobility
· Muscle wastage (Atrophy)
· Gets worse with cold weather
Like other orthopedic conditions, OA is diagnosed by your veterinary surgeon, following detailed clinical history and examination. Some times Radiographs can be taken (can see secondary boney development), joint taps (where synovial joint fluid is taken from the joint, to check viscosity and cell count) and in some cases a CT or MRI scan.
* Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAID)
*Conservative management (see HD)
*Neutricuticals to aid joint health
* Weight management
* Arthrodesis (Joint fusion)
Cruciate ligament rupture is a common condition in the dog, it can be either traumatic or degenerative.
The knee (or stifle joint) is stabilized by ligaments (cruciate and collateral). The cruciate ligament (cruciate means cross shaped) is located within the stifle and attaches the tibia to the femur.
There are cranial (front) and caudal (back) ligaments. Generally it is the cranial ligament that is affected (in some cases it can be both and in sever trauma the collaterals can be affected too).
The cruciate ligaments prevent forward and backwards movement within the joint. So when the ligament is torn there is a reduced stability within the stifle, cranial movement occurs and causes damage to the menisci (the shock absorbing cartilage within the joint) this can be very painful.
The ligament can either fully or partially rupture. It can be torn during exercise, twisting or slipping or degeneration where it becomes weak and eventually snaps.
· Non weight bearing or lameness
· Painful joint
· Joint swelling
Clinical signs depend on the severity of the rupture.
A cruciate ligament rupture is diagnosed by your veterinary surgeon following assessment, a positive cranial draw (forward and back movement of the bones) and radiography.
* Conservative management (see HD)
- TPLO or TTA (changes the mechanical stress on the stifle so the ligaments are no longer needed).
- Lateral suture (uses strong nylon suture material to stabilize the joint).
Hip Dysplasia is a disease that commonly affects larger and giant breed dogs (but can affect any breed.
It occurs when there is a genetic defect that causes the cartilage and ligaments within the hip joint to become lax, these ligaments usually stabilize the hip joint but in the case of HD dogs, they are weak.
As a result the developing joint doesn’t fit together properly (Joint incongruity). This causes abnormal forces in the bones and joint surfaces, they loose contact and the acetabulum (socket) and femoral head (ball) become malformed and don’t fit together correctly.
The abnormal loading can also lead to boney spurs developing, these lead to joint inflammation and pain.
As the dog gets older this can cause a lot of discomfort and pain, and can lead to arthritis. In some cases the joint is so badly affected it can cause a partial or full dislocation.
It can affect both legs or be just one sided.
It is diagnosed by a veterinary surgeon following consultation, assessment and radiography. It can be diagnosed as early as 6 months.
· Gait abnormality (lameness, bunny hopping)
· Muscle atrophy (wastage)
· Poor hip flexion or extension
· Difficulty with steps and stairs
· Guarding joints
· Abnormal frog leg posture in sit
* Conservative management
- Analgesia - Exercise plans
- Physiotherapy - Weight control
- Hydrotherapy - Special diets
- Environmental changes
* Total hip replacement (replace the affected ball and socket)
* TPO (surgical fracture of the pelvis, to realign the hip and femur)
* Femoral head and neck excision (removal of the ball to take pressure off the socket and reduce pain)
This condition occurs when the discs between the vertebral bodies (the spines shock absorbers) herniate and material from the center of these discs (nucleus pulposus) either bulges into the tough outer material (annulus fibrosis) or escapes through a tear. This can be caused by long-term degeneration or from an acute traumatic injury.
This escaped/bulging material puts pressure on the spinal cord, limits the brains ability to send messages via the cord and, depending on depth of compression, the clinical signs can range from weakness (paresis) and mild ataxia (wobbly walk) to complete paralysis and negative pain perception.
· Limb weakness (paresis)
· Paralysis (loss of function)
· Ataxia (wobbly gait)
· Muscle wastage (if chronic)
· Muscle atrophy (wastage)
· Scuffing toes
· Abnormal sitting position
· Abnormal posture
· Hypotonic musculature (poor tone)
Clinical signs are dependent of the level at which the spinal cord is affected (i.e. neck all limbs affected, lower back just hind limbs).
Depending on the level of severity, treatment protocols can range from strict rest and medication – in cases that are still ambulatory (walking) to cases where paralysis is present and surgery is the only treatment option, where the surgeon performs decompression of the spinal cord, this is done by making a window in the vertebrae (laminectomy) and removing the disc material.
In cases of spinal insult rehabilitation will pay a key part in their recovery.
Canine Degenerative Myelopathy
CDM is a slow onset, non painful progressive disease process. It is a terminal neurodegenerative disease.
CDM is caused by a genetic abnormality that affects the spinal cord, that initially displays in the hind limbs as a weakness/ scuffing of the toes and the degeneration of the spinal cord will eventually lead to hind limb paralysis and urinary/faecal incontinence.
It is a life limiting disease that will eventually affect the dogs ability to breath (the phrenic nerve that controls the diaphragm is affected) but generally owners will sadly decide to say good bye before it reaches this stage.
· Non painful
· Starts as limb weakness
· Sores may be present on feet from scuffing
There is a genetic test that can be performed to confirm Genetic predisposition, but some Genetic positive cases can be non symptomatic; therefore this is usually diagnosed due to patient breed/age and following ruling out of IVDD, FCE or other spinal conditions and following an MRI scan.
There is sadly, currently no cure for CDM. With these cases, recovery is not expected, the condition is degenerative and they are expected to get worse. We use therapy to maintain their quality of life, limit progression as best we can and assist in their comfort and mobility.
These dogs need to be supported and maintained with rehabilitation techniques.
These are aimed at maintaining joint mobility, reducing muscle atrophy, assisting in movement and joint support either with orthotics (equipment designed to aid a patients mobility with lifelong conditions or following injury) or client education on exercise regimes.
Their treatment plans will be tailored to their abilities as the disease progresses.
FCE is caused by a vascular embolus (blocked blood vessel) caused by fibrocartilagenous material, probably from a disc. The sudden blockage limits the amount of oxygen supply to the spinal cord, this can lead to some degree of tissue death.
These cases usually present very acutely (quick onset). The dogs are usually painful at the time of the injury (it is normally caused by some form of trauma or extreme activity) but not generally painful after that.
· Usually one sided, but can affect symetrically or all four limbs
· Limb weakness (paresis)
· Painful initially at onset then non painful
· Scuffing toes on affected limb/limbs
· Quick onset
· Generally no muscle atrophy (wastage) initially as acute onset
As with IVDD clinical signs depend of the level at which the spinal cord is affected.
Treatment for FCE is usually rest, Careful exercise regime and rehabilitation.
Surgery is not generally indicated in these cases.
Some specialists may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication in the early stages.
All these conditions have similar implications for Physiotherapy.
We use Physiotherapy to:
- Build muscle
- Assist in joint mobility
- Improve gait pattern
- Provide pain relief
- Decrease tension
- Improve the patients comfort and exercise tolerance
- Improve and speed up recovery from a procedure or injury
Treatment will assist in improving and maintaining a good quality of life for your pet, and for you as an owner.
All plans will be individually tailored to your pets ability and requirement.