Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dogs Blow Out Their Knees Too

You have heard about football or soccer players threatened with "career-ending" knee injuries. Did you know the problem may be even worse for dogs?
Rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), the canine equivalent of the anterior cruciate ligament in humans, is the most common orthopedic problem seen in veterinary practices around the world. A Wall Street Journal article reports the number of dog knees undergoing cruciate-ligament repair each year in America at more than 1.2 million - approximately five times the number of human procedures.  This is true even though humans outnumber dogs in the U.S. by nearly five to one.
The cost is high. In 2003, American dog owners spent over 1.3 billion dollars for surgical repair of ruptured ligaments according to a 2005 article by Dr. Vicki Wilke and colleagues in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association.
Surgery, however, is not the only option. Another option is a custom-made orthopedic brace or orthosis for the injured dog. Dr. Sherman Canapp, JR., DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS, is one of the world's foremost experts on the canine knee (technically called the "stifle"). Dr Canapp states that long-term success has been obtained with the use of a custom knee brace created by a certified orthotist.  Especially for older dogs, for dogs with concurrent medical conditions, or for dog owner's with financial constraints, orthotic treatment should be strongly considered.
In terms of the kinds of orthotic treatment available, Dr. Canapp recommends using the Tamarack Flexure Joint for a custom canine knee brace.  "Tamarack joints can be used to offload the stifle by mimicking the action of a healthy joint." Canapp et al. 2008.
In general, Canapp states that dogs adapt to orthotic devices within days to weeks with appropriate owner supervision and compliance. As Canapp states, "the development of these devices has helped treat and maintain many orthopedic conditions and injuries with great success, with and without surgical intervention. They often provide an alternative to surgery when combined with proper introduction, maintenance and rehabilitation." Canapp et al. 2008.

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