Patella Luxation

Description and cause

This is an inward and outward displacement of the patella (kneecap) with inward luxation the most common. It can be genetic/congenital, developmental or trauma related but usually develops with age. It is most common in little dogs including Pomeranian, Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahaus and Miniature and Toy Poodles. Patella luxation has however also been seen in Labradors, Flatcoated Retrievers, Boxers and St Bernard’s.

Symptoms and diagnosis

The main symptom is an intermittent lameness, as the patella luxates the dog will not bear weight on the affected leg for a few strides. With the spontaneous relocation of the patella the lameness disappears. There is no joint pain unless secondary osteoarthritis has developed. In dogs showing long-term symptoms of patella luxation, lameness may develop due to secondary cruciate ligament injury.

The condition tends to appear in young dogs. There are varying degrees of patella instability, which are classified into four grades ranging from intermittent luxation to permanent luxation.

Diagnosis is by examination and x-ray.


Mild cases (low grades) can be managed conservatively when lameness is infrequent. This includes physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. Exercises to help build up the quadriceps muscles are to be encouraged hydrotherapy can help greatly here. With McTimoney treatment the chances of equal muscle development are increased, as musculo-skeletal balance is improved. Acupuncture can aid pain relief.

More severe cases (higher grades) may require surgery and post operative rehabilitation.

Meadow farm 2008

Meadow farm 2008

Copyright © 2008 Meadow Farm