Cruciate Ligament Disease

The Cranial Cruciate ligament (CCL) is similar to the Anterior Cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans. This ligament is important to stabilise the knee and prevent the tibia  from sliding forward under the pressure of the dogs weight. Just like humans dogs may also damage their meniscus which can be exceptionally painful. 


Rehabilitation goals

Rehabilitation post Cruciate ligament rupture is vital to getting your partner back to running free and enjoying life. This goes far beyond just looking after the individual leg your dog has injured. 

  • Minimise shifting of weight- to protect the other limbs we need to manage the shifting of weight that would normally be taken by the injured leg. 
  • Minimise muscle loss- pain and lack of use will result in muscle atrophy.
  • Maintain range of motion- both active and passive exercise to ensure tight muscles, scar tissue or adhesions don't limit the ability of the leg to move normally. 
  • Maintain and improve flexibility- tight muscles can be painful and limit mobility during recover. 
  • Prevent negative compensatory changes- tight neck and shoulder muscles, swinging the leg, lack of hip extension can become long term problems which we can prevent from happening.   
  • Improve reflexes that will help actively stabilise and support both knees. 

Treatment options

Treatment options should be individualised to your pet based on their health status, activity level and home environment. They should also take into account your situation as the owner. 

Surgery is often a solution that offers control of pain and assessment of the joint and meniscus. There are a variety of different surgeries that can be performed and we are happy to work through the options with you. Surgery treats the specific joint, rehabilitation will take care of the rest of your dog. 

The rehabilitation process starts immediately a weakness is noted, it may be when your dog experiences a partial tear or sprain. It continues until your dog is moving freely and safely. 

Some situations occur where surgery is not an option, or we may need to delay surgery. In these cases we begin medical management to address and control the signs and symptoms your dog is experiencing. We work on strengthening muscles, improving reflex times and controlling pain to help your dog regain function. 


Why does this disease process occur, can we prevent it?

Cruciate ligament rupture is rarely a traumatic event in dogs like it is in humans and cats. It is typically a disease process that occurs over time. There are many different factors influencing disease process- some we can control and minimise so that is where conditioning and injury prevention is useful. 

Factors that have a correlation with increased risk of cruciate disease

  • Overweight
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Patella luxation