Luxating patellas are literally, slipping kneecaps or dislocating knees and some have given it the nick name " Trick knee".
The kneecap is situated inside a groove in the femur, and held in place by ligaments. If the groove is shallow, the kneecap will slip to either the inside or the outside of the leg. Slipping to the inside is called medial luxation; slipping to the outside of the leg is called lateral luxation. Medial luxation is the more common condition.
Luxating patellas can be caused by bad breeding, genetics, malformation of the groove and patella during growth phase or due to a past trauma such as a fall or road traffic accident.
Smaller breeds are prone especially Toy and Miniature Poodles, Cavaliers and Cocker Spaniels. As Cockapoo and other Poodle cross owners this is something we need to be aware of. Any dog that shows signs of Luxating Patellas should not be bred from.
Currently there is no UK screening scheme run by the BVA/KC so it is up to the owner or breeder to seek screening by their vet. This is usually done by manual manipulation, although some vets may investigate further using X-rays.
We feel that breeders should now have their breeding dogs checked for Luxating Patellas prior to breeding. This could be done as part of their breeding health screen at the vets. If there any signs of Luxating Patellas then breeders should not breed from these affected dogs.
What are the Symptoms
Symptoms usually start off with intermittent lameness in the rear legs. Dog may be stiff, or cry out in pain when running. The affected leg will be extended rearward, and for a while the dog is unable to bend it back into it's normal position.
Your dog may suddenly stop or may have a hop, hop skip action. Some dogs may only show one symptom and others many. If the condition is left and not treated it could lead to progressive debilitating arthritis of the joint.
It can happen in one knee or both, to either sex and can be found in puppies, although most start showing signs from 6 months of age.
Luxating Patellas are graded from 1-4
Grade 1: The knee slips out when the vet manipulates it, but will fall back into it's normal place. This grade does not require surgery.
Grade 2: Slips out occasionally when dog is either walking or running. Dog copes well. You can slip it back into it's socket manually. Surgery may be option to be agreed by owner and vet.
Grade 3: Slips out frequently and causes chronic lameness.Putting back in manually doesn't last long Requires surgery.
Grade 4:The knee slips out and stays that way and cannot be manually put back into it's socket. Dog has extreme difficulty extending it's knees and will walk with bent knees. Will require surgery.
Treatments will vary according to grade and your vet but usually the treatments available are:
- Maintaining your dog at a healthy weight to put less pressure on the joints
- Non steroid anti-inflammatories . These will reduce some of the inflammation.
-Oral joint supplements
- Exercises to help build leg muscle with the aim to assist in holding kneecap in place better
Alternative treatments some people use
- Massage to stimulate healing and reduce overall stress to the joint.
- Magnet Therapy
- Hydrotherapy ( swimming and water exercises)
See here : http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/treatment-options-for-the-luxating-patella/2/
Living With a dog who has Luxating Patellas
By Dawn Tranter owner of Molly the cockapoo ( in the picture above)
Molly came to me at around 17 months old after having problems with her old home. The first sign I saw of any possible problem was when I was walking her on lead and noticed her lift one of her rear legs for a step or two. As soon as I stopped and checked her she put her foot back down and walked normally. I noticed this several times over her first couple of months with both of her back legs but as she built up her muscles the problem appeared to go away.
Disaster struck one Sunday evening when she suddenly yelped when standing up and was then very reluctant to move. She was no happier in the morning so we went to the vet who gave her pain killers and examined her. The only time she yelped was when she manipulated her right hip so that was suggested as the possible cause of the pain. As she was no happier after a couple of days I booked her in for x-rays at my vets. After x-rays the vet reported no breaks and suggested the problem was a pulled muscle which may take a while to heal.
She started to recover very gradually but I was concerned that there was potentially a bigger problem so I arranged a referral to a specialist who had treated a previous dog of mine. Unfortunately the specialist diagnosed luxating patella with both back legs affected and this was causing her to not use her back legs as well as she should. She is badly affected enough that she may well need surgery to correct the problem in one or both of her knees at some stage.
At the moment we are working with the specialist vet and a local vet to use exercises to encourage her to use her legs fully and build the muscles which will hopefully hold her kneecaps in place better. We have had one set-back when she went rabbit chasing and pulled her knee badly stretching the ligaments and making her lame on one leg for a short time. This means a slow build up again as we try to increase exercise enough to build the muscle, without overdoing it enough to cause damage. All this needs to be balanced with her happiness and thankfully for now she is a happy girl.
Both specialist and local vet think it is likely she will need surgery at some point although thanks to the help of some good vets, hopefully we are some way from this at the moment. She is also likely to be affected by arthritis in her knees in the future although she is taking joint supplements in the hope of minimising this as much as I can. Unfortunately in her case my vets have confirmed that this condition is likely to be hereditary.
Update - July 2012
After just over six months of work using physio exercises under the guidance of the Smart Clinic Cardiff, Molly has been discharged.
Her muscle tone is now excellent and she is fit and moves well. She is also very happy running and playing and show no sign of pain or lameness at all. Her improved muscle tone is unfortunately not quite good enough to hold her kneecaps in position but it has minimised the amount of movement to a tiny amount and for now she needs no further treatment and I will just need to go back if she has future problems.
You can follow Molly on her own blog :
Molly Musings - Life with Molly the Cockapoo
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