Basic information on identification, risk factors, and treatment of the condition.
Patellar Luxation is dislocation of the kneecap. Healthy movement of the knee joint is facilitated by the patella moving along a groove beneath the patellar ligament, between the femur and tibial bone. When the patella is pulled outside of the groove during motion, pain and discomfort can occur.
If your dog is suffering this condition, you may notice these symptoms:
- Abnormal hind limb movement
- Inability to bend knee
- Swollen knee joint
- Cries of pain when the limb is used
A Luxating Patella can be genetic or caused by trauma. Many small breeds, like Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, and Maltese, have a genetic predisposition for the condition. Female dogs are also much more likely to develop it.
Patellar Luxation may become worse if left untreated. There are various grades of severity, from occasional luxation with force (specific movements), to frequent luxation, to nearly constant luxation, i.e., the kneecap is always dislocated. Dogs with cases on the mild end of the spectrum often have manageable symptoms; they can learn to manipulate their leg to relocate the kneecap and carry on with activity. Some dogs even go their entire lives with the condition.
However, more severe cases may require surgery for correction. Recovery for these procedures is relatively quick and involves limited activity for a while. Most dogs regain proper function of their knee joint, and although there’s a chance of the condition returning, it will not be as serious as the initial occurrence. Your veterinarian or surgeon will be able to explain and recommend the best surgical approach for your dog’s circumstances.
The big problem with Patellar Luxation in dogs is that it can cause other issues or lead to long term conditions. If serious cases are not addressed in a timely manner, arthritis can occur in the knee joint. Then, even after surgical repair of the luxating kneecap, arthritis may progress and cause pain and immobility as the dog ages. Typically, the more severe the luxation, the higher the chance of it reoccuring. Severe patellar luxation also increases the likelihood of other injuries, such as cruciate ligament tears.
Don’t ignore a suspected luxating patella – schedule an exam for your pet. Your vet will be able to determine whether that is the culprit and the severity. If surgery is recommended for your dog and you’re worried about the high costs of a referral, contact us to discuss our mobile surgery services.