Cruciate Ligament Rupture/ Disease

Description and cause

This is a very common injury in dogs; it involves the rupture or partial tear of the cruciate ligament, which is responsible for the stability of the stifle (knee joint). These ligaments prevent internal rotation, overextension of the stifle and displacement of the tibia relative to the femur.

Rupture or tear can be caused by trauma or age related changes, although the size and conformation of some dogs makes them more likely to suffer from this condition.

Symptoms and diagnosis

The initial symptom is often acute lameness of the affected leg although this may be less severe if there is only a partial tear. The leg is carried with the stifle bent, after 7-10 days the dog may use the leg walking but will stand with the toes just touching the ground. Clicking noises may be heard and swelling maybe present.

Diagnosis is by veterinary examination and x-ray.


Non-surgical treatment is usually only applicable to small dogs and will include physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and pain management, while acupuncture may also be used to help give pain relief. If lameness persists, surgical stabilisation is recommended. In large dogs early stabilisation is recommended to try to minimize the development of osteoarthritis.

Various surgical techniques are available and should be discussed with your veterinarian. These include:

  • Intracapsular technique- replacing the ligament with a graft
  • Extracapsular technique- restoring stability using sutures
  • Periarticular technique- Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) restoring the stability by altering the anatomy of the stifle.

An appropriate period of convalescence and rehabilitation will follow surgery, ideally including physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. Pain management must be considered and acupuncture may be used to give pain relief. McTimoney treatment can not make the condition any better but can improve the outcome by helping to keep the dog balanced , thus minimizing compensation injuries elsewhere. Many dogs will go on to develop osteoarthritis of the affected stifle and these dogs may also benefit from acupuncture and other therapies to maximize their joint mobility.

Meadow Farm 2008

Meadow Farm 2008

Copyright © 2008 Meadow Farm