A dog's cruciate ligament provides stability to the knee (stifle) joint. Without this stability, the joint moves too much, which can lead to progressive osteoarthritis (OA).
Cranial cruciate ligament injuries to the knee are commonly found in dogs. Early rehabilitation intervention a few weeks after surgery can help improve their health and quality of life.
Early rehabilitation can include treatments such as therapeutic exercise, aquatic therapy and more. This can have many positive impacts, from reducing pain and swelling to improving balance.
What to Expect From Cruciate Ligament Repair & Rehabilitation
We usually begin rehabilitation a few weeks following your dog's surgery. Custom-designed treatment programs may include manual techniques such as massage or aquatic therapy. Exercise at home is also very important.
Cruciate Injury Rehabilitation Options
Our highly trained veterinarians can use a number of therapeutic interventions in treatment programs, including:
- Manual techniques (including massage, passive range of motion and joint mobilization)
- Therapeutic exercise
- Aquatic therapy
- Modalities such as heat or cold packs, cold laser therapy and neuromuscular stimulation
We want you and your dog to be as comfortable as possible during the rehabilitation period, and are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding treatment.
Cruciate Repair & Rehabilitation FAQs
Read our most frequently asked questions about cruciate repair and rehabilitation, or contact us to ask a different question.
- How are cruciate injuries caused?
Tears in the cruciate ligament can happen as a result of trauma, but more often it is caused by a slow degenerative process, which compromises the ligament and may lead to tearing.
- Which surgeries are commonly used to repair cruciate injuries and stabilize joints?
Surgery is the preferred method to stabilize a joint with a cruciate injury, as it reduces muscular atrophy and minimizes degenerative changes that may occur if we try more conservative, non-surgical management.
A variety of procedures can be used to repair a torn cruciate ligament, but two of the most common are the tibial plateau levelling osteotomy (TPLO) and the extracapsular repair.
- Why is rehabilitation important?
In human medicine, physical therapy is the standard of care following surgery for a cruciate injury. In veterinary medicine, we now know that animals benefit from the same treatment protocols and technology used to treat people during physical therapy.
Benefits of early rehabilitation are documented in studies. These benefits include improving range of motion and muscle mass, and control weight bearing. The progression of OA can be minimized while the recovery process is accelerated, ultimately restoring your dog's function and mobility.
Rehabilitation is also an important measure to take to minimize the risk of injury to an animal's other limbs.
- What types of therapeutic interventions can be included in rehabilitation programs?
Along with therapeutic interventions such as massage, therapeutic exercise and aquatic therapy, our highly qualified veterinarians can recommend home exercise programs to complement the therapy done at our clinic.
Each treatment plan is customized based on the needs of patients and their owners.
- Why should we start rehabilitation early?
By beginning rehabilitation within the first few weeks after surgery, we can help minimize post-operative swelling, reduce pain, increase range of motion, and promote controlled weight bearing.
New Patients Always Welcome
American Pet Clinic is accepting new patients! Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.