Massage Therapy for Dog CCL Tear

active dogMassage therapy for dogs can aid in comfort and healing of a dog ccl tear.  Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) is one of the most common orthopedic injuries in dogs and is the most common cause of degenerative joint disease in the stifle(knee) joint.

There are four major ligaments that support and stabilize the stifle joint.   They connect the femur to the tibia and the joint capsule to the bones.  There are two ligaments located on either side, outside of the joint(lateral and medial ligaments) and two located inside the joint (caudal and cranial cruciate ligaments). The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) attaches to the femur, runs across the stifle joint, and attaches to the tibia.   The CCL holds the tibia in place and prevents internal rotation and hyperextension.  The meniscus absorbs impact and provides a gliding surface between the femur and the tibial plateau.  The patella (kneecap) protects the tendon from insertion of the thigh muscles.

Dog CCL Tear Causes

There are several causes of a dog CCL tear or rupture. Acute onset is usually caused by an injury from a single traumatic or athletic incident caused by sudden twisting of the ligament.   This can occur

when stepping in a hole, while running, or if the dog turns with his paw remaining planted.  Twisting motion causes the ligament to hyperextend or rotate excessively and partially or completely tear.

This is the most common in dogs under 4 years old.  Large and giant breeds are more susceptible than small breeds.  In an acute rupture, the meniscus is often damaged as well. Risk factors include, age, arthritis, injury to stifle joint, large or giant breed, overweight, poor musculature near the joint, and structural abnormalities( bow legged, luxating patella).

Onset can also be chronic (degeneration and rupture usually from aging), occurring in dogs 5 to 7 years old and accounts for 80% of cases.  Chronic rupture occurs after the ligament has degenerated with age.  The fibers weaken and partially tear, the joint becomes unstable, and degenerative joint disease develops.  A dog CCL tear which is partial will often eventually tear completely.

Dog CCL Tear Treatment

dog ccl tear surgery
Veterinarian closing incision after knee operation on small dog

One possible treatment is arthroscopy, a minimally invasive therapy that also serves as a diagnostic method.  There are different surgical treatments that aim to restore joint stability and minimize the progression of osteoarthritis.

Home care and rehabilitation therapy are important for recovery.  Minimal activity is recommended with short walks with no running or playing for two months.  This lack of activity can lead to muscle wasting in the affected limb and over stress in the muscles of compensating hind leg.  The center of gravity will be shifted forward so there can be hypertonic muscles of the chest and forelimbs.

Massage Therapy for Dog CCL Tear

Massage, gentle stretching and passive range of motion, can help maintain circulation and tonicity in muscles.  Massage can importantly help maintain an overall balance as dogs with a ruptured CCL have a 50% to 70% chance of rupturing the CCL in their other knee.

After surgery the body’s response is to develop scar tissue in that particular area to provide extra support.  Scar tissue adheres to all structures and in excess can cause serious restriction, impeding flexibility and causing pain.  This in turn, can also lead to extra muscular tension.

dog massage therapy creates happy family
Happy child playing with dog in green field

Massage can loosen muscle fibers, increase circulation to the area, and release the scar tissue.  Massage can help speed your dog’s recovery and return your dog to full function following this common injury.

Massage therapy after a dog CCL tear can help keep your family happy.  For more information about possible help in the recovery process after a dog CCL tear, please contact Mari Vogel at 919-452-3467.

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