What Causes Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets?
If you watch sports, you probably cringe when you see an athlete fall and clutch their knee. As one of the important ligaments in charge of stabilizing the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is most likely what they tore.
Did you know that your pet can tear the same knee ligament? Although called by a different name—cranial cruciate ligament (CCL)—the problem is the same.
What is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?
Stabilizing the knee joint depends on the cranial cruciate ligament, which joins the thigh bone (the femur) to the shin bone (the tibia). The shin moves away from the femur as your pet walks when the CCL ruptures or tears, creating instability and pain.
How does the cranial cruciate ligament become damaged in pets?
A multitude of factors contribute to a CCL rupture or tear in pets, including:
- Ligament degeneration
- Poor physical condition
- Skeletal shape and configuration
In general, CCL rupture occurs because the ligament slowly degenerates over months or years, rather than an acute injury to a healthy ligament.
What are signs of a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?
It can be difficult for pet owners to decide whether their pet needs veterinary care when they notice symptoms of a CCL tear, especially if the tear is partial. However, a CCL rupture necessitates medical attention, so you must make an appointment with our staff if your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms:
- 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
How can a torn cranial cruciate ligament be repaired?
Treatment for a torn CCL will depend on your pet’s activity level, size, age, and degree of knee instability. Surgery is typically the best option, as an osteotomy- or suture-based technique is the only way to permanently manage the instability. However, medical management may also be an option.
Your pet may have torn their cranial cruciate ligament if they limp on one of their hind legs. Call our staff to arrange an orthopedic examination.