The knee joint is designed to allow movement of the lower leg. The bone of the upper leg (femur) is connected to the lower leg (tibia) by ligaments and tendons. A ligament is a tough "rope-like" structure inside the joint
When a ligament such as the anterior cruciate ruptures abnormal movement in the joint occurs. In the knees, the femur (thigh bone) slides back and forth over the tibia (shin bone). This causes considerable pain and often causes a tear in the protective cartilage. Without medical / surgical attention this abnormal wear and tear will lead to arthritis and chronic discomfort.
An “ACL” (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the most common sports related injuries with people.
Depending on the severity of the rupture, your pet's age and activity level the recommended treatment may consist of rest and medication or actual surgical repair. The doctor will give you the pros and cons of both treatment approaches and help you make the correct decision for your pet.
If surgery is recommended, it may consist of the following:
Removal of the damaged cartilage
Replacement of the torn ligament
Tightening of the joint tissue to help prevent abnormal movement
Even after surgery, recovery may take weeks to months. People go through extensive physical therapy to assist recovery. This is just not practical for our pets. Due to the nature of the injury some degree of arthritis is inevitable. Therefore, the joint will rarely be "good as new", but should be appreciably better. The goal of surgery is to make the knee joint more stable, thus reducing the pet’s pain and reducing future joint degeneration.
Remember, rupture of the knee ligaments occurs most frequently in overweight dogs. Because of this the problem could occur in the other leg at a later time. Weight reduction is critical!