Understanding Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets

Exploring Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets: What You Need to Know

While watching a sports event, witnessing an athlete clutching their knee after a fall is enough to make anyone cringe. It’s likely an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, a crucial ligament that stabilizes the knee joint.

But did you know that your furry companion can also experience a similar knee ligament injury? Although referred to as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), the problem remains the same.

What exactly is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

In pets, the cranial cruciate ligament connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia), providing crucial stability to the knee joint. When the CCL becomes ruptured or torn, the shin bone thrusts forward while walking, causing discomfort and instability for your pet.

How do pets develop a cranial cruciate ligament tear?

Multiple factors contribute to the rupture or tear of the CCL in pets, including ligament degeneration, obesity, poor physical condition, genetics, skeletal shape, and breed. Generally, CCL rupture occurs gradually over months or years due to ligament degeneration, rather than as a result of acute injury to a healthy ligament.

What signs indicate a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

Recognizing the signs of a CCL tear, especially a partial tear, can be challenging for pet owners to assess the severity and determine if veterinary care is necessary. 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 in a hind leg
– Difficulty standing up after sitting
– Difficulty while sitting
– Trouble jumping onto furniture or into the car
– Decreased activity level
– Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
– Reduced range of motion in the knee

How can a torn cranial cruciate ligament be treated?

The appropriate treatment for a torn CCL depends on factors such as your pet’s activity level, size, age, and the degree of knee instability. Generally, surgery is the preferred option as it provides a permanent solution through osteotomy- or suture-based techniques. However, medical management may also be considered.

If you notice your pet limping on a hind leg, it’s possible that they have torn their cranial cruciate ligament. Contact our team to schedule an orthopedic examination.