Will a dog knee brace help with the healing process of a cruciate ligament injury?
Original Question: Our dog has a mild ACL injury. Can a brace help during the healing process? - Jerry
Thanks for your question.
So cranial or anterior cruciate ligament rupture, it can be classed as partial or complete. So a partial rupture is almost like a little bit of fraying of that ligament whereas a complete rupture is when it’s completely given way and it’s no longer intact. Presumably, this is a partial rupture since it’s being described as mild, so it’s still very painful, but the joint itself might be still pretty stable. When the ligament completely goes, the joint becomes very loose, unstable, causes a lot of pain and a huge amount of problems. There are a number of braces that are available, but I’m not aware of any evidence or studies that conclude that they actually improve healing, comfort, allow for more exercise or have any other benefit. That doesn’t mean that they don’t work but my concern would be that the dog anatomy is not the same as humans in that their upper legs really are on a constant fixed diameter and they don’t readily allow a brace to be placed that would be firmly enough fixed in one spot to only allow the normal rotational movement to take place or the movement through one plane to take place and prevent other slipping forces acting on the knee.
So what can we do? Rest is going to be crucial and also in most cases actually unless it’s very, very mild than surgical intervention generally represents the best chance of recovery for a dog with a partial or complete rupture.
Also if we are then giving them painkillers for a long, long period of time before we otherwise may have had to then the cost of that can actually be potentially more than the treatment (ie. surgery).
I hope this helps.
Dr. Alex Avery
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