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The cranial cruciate ligament in dogs is the same as the “anterior” cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans.

It is a band of tough fibrous tissue that attaches the (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone), preventing the tibia from shifting forward relative to the femur. It also helps to prevent the stifle (knee) joint from over-extending or rotating.

Cruciate ligament disease is extremely common in the vast majority of dogs, the cranial cruciate ligament ruptures as a result of long-term degeneration, whereby the fibres within the ligament weaken over time especially within larger active breeds and there are certain breeds that are  predisposed, Other factors such as obesity may also play a role.

Many owners will notice a sudden lameness, which is present constantly or intermittent this often occurs when sufficient damage to the cruciate ligament prevents it from doing its job correctly. It can be painful and inflammation will be presented. There are different options to treat cruciate disease some people opt for conservative management if the patient is at risk from general anaesthetic due to age, obesity severe heart disease and other factors. A multi module approach is often needed such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, K laser therapy and medication like anti-inflammatory painkillers but usually takes some months for improvement.

Surgical treatments are therefore the preferred choice. There are several different ways to surgically repair the cruciate and they have changed and improved greatly over the years. The two that we tend to see are the Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy (TPLO) and Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) These repairs have a good reputation and your pet is usually weight bearing within 1 to 3 days.

Hydrotherapy is extremely beneficial for non surgical management and post operative rehabilitation of the cruciate repair. The hydrostatic pressure of the water decreases pain perception and swelling. In addition the heated water helps improve circulation and the water provides buoyancy, decreasing the animals body weight and therefore making them lighter and easier to move, increasing flexibility and range of movement. The water also provides resistance as the animal walks on the treadmill or swims in the pool, which gently helps build muscle tone and strength and improves cardiovascular fitness.

We have found that dogs with a rehabilitation routine return to normal function a lot quicker and helps to prevent secondary complications as a result of limb disuse. Hainault hydrotherapy have a team that are all very experienced in the management of cruciate ligament disease.

Contact us to discuss your treatment