More than a million dogs every year are having torn cruciate ligament injuries! The numbers are staggering and we need to understand how come they are only getting higher. Breeders need to ask if it is from over-breeding, in-line breeding, and if there is a genetic component to this crisis. The amount of dogs ungoing surgery each year is on the up-rise and more and more people are looking to alternative remedies such as conservative management. Nobody wants unnecessary surgery on their canine companion.
The most common prescription is surgery when we are dealing with a torn dog acl. Surgery does not always work with every patient and age and health conditions are a determining factor. Conservative management is an alternative but not a cure all. This is an approach which can require as much time and dedication as if the dog had surgery, and can cost the same in money and time. Conservative management is the use of nonsurgical treatment of injuries and can include any or all of the following:
- physical therapy
- chiropractic adjustments
- acupuncture treatments
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- medicinal herbs
If ligament injuries are not treated immediately, they will improve slightly but the knee will remain swollen and painful, causing abnormal wear between the bones and meniscal cartilage which will result in osteophytes (bone spurs), chronic pain and loss of motion. The bone spurs can begin within three weeks of injuring the knee. The normal procedure which rules out the possibility of bone cancer is the drawer test. This determines if the cruciate ligament has been torn or ruptured and is visible by the tibia being moved forward like a drawer upon manipulation of the knee.
A complete rupture is always a surgical case. The knee cannot function like a hinge joint and there is no way around it. If the tear is partial, give yourself eight weeks of physical rehabilitation, and if the condition improves, nonsurgical recovery is an option. If the symptoms don’t improve during the time of conservative management, the physical work done will help in the pre and post surgical recovery. I have gained much knowledge and experience from rehabilitating my dogs with torn cruciate ligaments. I go into lots of detail in Chapter four of my e-book and provide a whole program which I utilized to bring my companions back to a total recovery.