The Problem (CCL Rupture)

Description and Possible Causes of the Injury to your Dog’s Knee

What happens when the CCL ruptures?

We’ve all had a door break a hinge, and then the door won’t open or close very well- usually causing a lot of scraping on the floor. The same thing happens in the stifle joint. The bones are no longer in proper alignment, and the joint doesn’t work well, causing pain, inflammation, and cartilage damage.

Typically, when the CCL ruptures, the femur rides backwards on the tibia, and the tibia wants to come forward. The fancy term for this phenomenon is cranial tibial subluxation. The bottom line is that it hurts!

Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament

Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament

Most clients bringing in a pet with a CCL rupture say that it occurred during running, fetching, or playing with another dog. To the owner, it may appear as an acute (or quick onset) injury, but that is not so. This is a chronic disease in dogs, unlike humans. Human ACL injuries are almost always the result of athletic trauma.

You may ask, “What’s the difference between human and canine knee ligament injuries?”

First, the stance of the canine knee is different than the stance of the human knee. People stand straight up, with their femur directly on top of their tibia, having a joint angle of 1800. Dogs stand with an angle of 1350

Human and Dog Knees

Human and Dog Knees

As you can see, every time that a dog stands, the bone alignment is dependent upon an intact CCL to hold the bones in place in the stifle (knee) joint. Chronic wear and tear on the CCL causes it to ultimately fail.

The best analogy is a rope; the CCL is like a rope made up of many fibers. With time and stress, the fibers of the rope slowly break down until it is so weak that it can’t do its job anymore and breaks.

Most dogs come see me when the CCL finally breaks and the dog is so lame that it either can’t bear any weight, or can only touch its toes to the ground.

You can certainly have a partial tear which is just as painful, and leaves the CCL just as incompetent.This is important because CCL injury is always accompanied by some form of degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis. This arthritis is not reversible.

Most surgeries slow the progression of arthritis, but do not reverse what is already there; therefore the stifle is never the same as if it had an intact CCL. (The world is not perfect!)

Continue to – “The Solution – TTA Surgery

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