Demystifying Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets

As you observe a sporting event, witnessing an athlete clutching their knee and experiencing a tear in their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), it’s important to know that your beloved pet can face a similar injury. While it’s referred to as a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear in pets, the issue remains the same.

Understanding Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets

The cranial cruciate ligament, connecting the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia), plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee joint. When the CCL ruptures or tears, your pet’s shin thrusts forward away from the femur during movement, leading to instability and discomfort.

Causes of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Damage in Pets

Several factors contribute to CCL rupture or tear in pets, including:

– Ligament degeneration
– Obesity
– Poor physical condition
– Genetics
– Skeletal shape and configuration
– Breed predisposition

In most cases, CCL rupture occurs due to gradual ligament degeneration over months or years, rather than an acute injury to a healthy ligament.

Signs of a Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear in Pets

Recognizing signs of a CCL tear, especially a partial tear, can be challenging for pet owners to determine the need for veterinary care. However, a CCL rupture requires medical attention, and it’s crucial to schedule an appointment with our team if your pet displays the following signs:

– Pain
– Stiffness
– Lameness on a hind leg
– Difficulty standing after sitting
– Difficulty during the process of sitting
– Difficulty jumping into the car or on furniture
– Decreased activity level
– Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
– Decreased range of motion in the knee

Repairing a Torn Cranial Cruciate Ligament

The treatment approach for a torn CCL depends on various factors such as your pet’s activity level, size, age, and the degree of knee instability. Surgery is typically the recommended option as it offers a permanent solution to manage instability through osteotomy- or suture-based techniques. However, in some cases, medical management may be considered as an alternative.

If your pet exhibits hind leg limping, it’s possible they have suffered a cranial cruciate ligament tear. Contact our team to schedule an orthopedic exam and discuss appropriate steps for their care.