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A fracture is a broken bone. Proper care calls for splinting, casting, or bracing to realign the bone, protect the limb, and allow for healing. Improper care for a fracture can lead to a poorly or improperly fused bone which can cause pain and discomfort.
A joint contracture is characterized by chronic impairment of joint motion caused by structural changes in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This may occur in any joint of the body as a result of immobilization, nerve injuries, or disease.
The most common cause of Achilles tendon rupture is a fall. Puncture wounds can also cause a partially or completely ruptured tendon. An Achilles Tendon Rupture often causes a plantigrade stance where the dog will have their hock on the floor. Surgery is usually necessary to help the ruptured tendon heal but can be supported by a custom hock brace.
The CCL ligament in the knee can tear either partially or fully due to excessive use. This causes the knee joint to become unstable, allowing the abnormal forward movement of the tibia known as tibial drawer. Abnormal movement must be prevented in order to reduce pain and allow healing of the joint.
Due to a defect in the normal growth process, the cartilage of the hip joint doesn't fully form around the femoral head. This leads the femur to pull away from the hip, resulting in pain and inflammation. If left untreated, this condition can lead to lameness in the affected limb.
This is caused by excessive force on the carpus, or wrist, leading to tearing of the ligaments and fibrocartilage in the carpal joint. This is seen as the collapse of the carpal joint.
Intervertebral discs are the “cushions” in the space between spinal vertebrae. These discs are subject to a number of degenerative conditions and forces which predispose them to bulge or rupture over time. This bulging or rupture leads to damage to the spinal cord. IVDD in dogs is a common cause of back pain, rear limb paralysis, and inability to walk or feel the back legs. Certain breeds including the Dachshund, Shih Tzu, Pekingese, and Beagle are commonly affected.
The Intervertebral Disc protects the spinal cord from injury by acting as a shock absorber.
The Intervertebral Rings rupture, allowing the pulpy nucleus of the Intervertebral Disc to protrude and press on the spinal cord.
The pulpy nucleus of the Intervertebral Disc presses on the Intervertebral Rings causing a bulge which presses on the spinal cord.
An Angular Limb Deformity is one that causes a joint to be misaligned, causing the neighboring bones to appear angled. These deformities are most noticeable in the wrist joint of pets and can be caused by congenital deformities or injury.
A Varus Deformity is one where the joint bows outward to the side. This can cause the paw to appear too far inward when the pet stands. This is often referred to as a “bow-legged stance”.
A Valgus Deformity is one where the joint bows inward, so the joints are closer to one another than is normal. This can cause the paw to appear too far outward to the side when the pet stands.
An amputation is the removal of a limb and can be either a partial or full limb. Partial amputations leave some amount of the residual limb. Full amputations generally take the entire limb away and are for more severe injuries. While this may seem like a drastic option, it actually removes a source of pain, either injury or disease, and allows for a better quality of life.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is the chronic and progressive degeneration of the spinal cord. This disease is genetic and therefore is not caused by activity or spinal structure. The exact cause of DM is unknown but is currently being linked to a gene mutation similar to that which leads to ALS in humans.
Paralysis is a general term that describes any body part that has abnormal loss of function and can be complete (no use possible) or partial (some use possible). It is caused by the disruption of nerve communication between the brain and body, commonly nerve damage. Depending on the cause of the nerve damage, paralysis may be reversed.
Arthritis describes the deterioration of a joint. Deterioration can occur on the articular cartilage that lines joint surfaces or on the bone itself if the articular cartilage is worn away. This often causes pain and restricts movement in the joint. Arthritis is often considered a disease of old age, meaning older people and pets are more likely to have this disease.
A patella, the kneecap, is considered a luxating patella when it does not follow the patellar groove of the femur. This means that the kneecap shifts out of place when the pet is walking or sitting. A Luxating Patella is most common in small breed dogs who naturally have a smaller patellar groove.
Knuckling refers to when a pet walks on the top of the feet so the pads of their feet are facing upwards. This commonly occurs with other conditions, such as Degenerative Myelopathy, Intervertebral Disc Disease, or paralysis. If a pet walks on the top of their feet too long, they may develop painful sores that can become infected.