Cruciate ligament injury - does it ever resolve with rest?

(48 Posts)
DishingOutDone Tue 07-Apr-20 18:14:38

My cocker is 16 kilos. He's been having problems for 2 weeks and the vet said we need to be even stricter with rest so confined to house for 2 weeks (even the dog is self isolating!). He's on metacam and has pain relief if required. He said if no improvement they will x-ray and decide on surgery; I thought that sounded very reasonable.

Now I've been reading Fitzpatrick Referrals website and they seem to say that cruciate ligament never heals with rest and immediate surgery is the only answer. We live an hour away from Fitzpatrick's and its hardly the time to be setting off on journeys, but if you were me would you ring our own vet back and say hey, I am not sure this is the best way forward?

H thinks its a great way forward as it requires no effort or input on this part. I'd like to think our own vet is right but ....

Anyone else had this experience?

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DishingOutDone Tue 07-Apr-20 18:15:10

PS he is 3 years old.

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JayAlfredPrufrock Tue 07-Apr-20 18:16:31

I was told that without surgery the leg eventually stiffens but can take up to a year. Perfectly acceptable way forward and better with a smaller dog.

DishingOutDone Tue 07-Apr-20 18:34:20

Thanks @Jay but what do you mean? Is it meant to stiffen? Is that a good thing? Do you mean it stabilises with rest but takes a while?

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JayAlfredPrufrock Tue 07-Apr-20 18:56:38

Mine snapped his cruciate. I was told I could leave it and let him hop on three legs until it ‘healed’ but would have no bending movement. He was a Springer so I opted for the expensive op from which he recovered well but then the bastard had a stroke and had to be pts 9 months later.

JayAlfredPrufrock Tue 07-Apr-20 18:57:08

God I loved that dog.

DishingOutDone Tue 07-Apr-20 19:08:59

Oh @Jay that's awful I am so sorry. My last dog had to be PTS aged 5, its a wrong that can never be righted eh? sad Have you got another dog now?

I was hoping we'd have an easier time with this boy; but its early days in the injury and its not a complete tear so lets see, give it a few days I might get a second opinion. Its a pretty crap time to have a sick dog as I am trying to do the 12 week isolation too!

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rottiemum88 Tue 07-Apr-20 19:18:34

Depends on the size of the dog. Our rottie ruptured her cruciate last year and there's no way it'd have healed without surgery. She had the op and recovered really well though, was walking as normal pretty much straight away. But then... she weighs around 35 kilos, so yours would be a different ball game I guess.

One thing our vet did say is that with a cruciate injury almost always comes early onset arthritis, which was visible on the scans in our case and there can also be damage to some of the other tissue around the cruciate (can't remember their name), which will never resolve itself and needs to be cut away. That isn't in all cases, but was in ours. I'm glad we had the op done and she's no longer in pain

Floralnomad Tue 07-Apr-20 20:14:10

My sisters JRTx border , did his cruciate when he was about 11/12 , he was very portly at the time and probably weighed about 10/11 kg , he recovered very well by just resting him for several weeks . He had no visible limp but was on rimadyl for the last few years of his life for generalised arthritis .

tadpole39 Tue 07-Apr-20 20:16:53

My Westie snapped his age 7. The vet said small dogs do as well with surgery as without and recommended strict rest for 12 weeks. He healed well and died age 12 with no further problems.

BeautifulBirds Tue 07-Apr-20 20:18:35

My late boxer dog did hers, falling down a hole. Rested her for 12 weeks, first walk out, gentle ish, she did it again.

Had surgery where they fitted a clip or something. 3 months later it became infected from the inside and had to come out. She did OK after that.

Sadly, she got bone cancer in the front leg and due to her weight (35kg)and damage to the back leg, we had her PTS 6 weeks after the diagnosis.

Good luck and best wishes. X

jinxpixie Tue 07-Apr-20 20:19:16

Depends on the size of the dog and how bad the tear is.

(On a personal note having had dogs receive treatment at Fitzpatrick I would never return there . It depends where you are but other specialist vets can do cruciate to cut down on journey time)

VetOnCall Tue 07-Apr-20 21:22:33

Cruciate injury can resolve without surgery but it depends on multiple factors including the severity of clinical signs and the size/weight of the dog - the smaller the dog the better the chance of conservative treatment working. Tbh 16kg would be very much on the borderline of this for me, if not over it in most cases. The conservative approach can take a very long time - as in months, and the dog may be left with a permanent limp. The dog's weight has to be carefully controlled, especially important if they're on very restricted physical activity. Hydrotherapy can help with recovery, I generally recommend it for post-surgery cases as well.

Unfortunately osteoarthritis is pretty much unavoidable in affected joints but there are supplements available that can help to mitigate the effects of this.

DishingOutDone Tue 07-Apr-20 23:41:12

Thank you everyone! The vet did say at 16kg he was borderline and I too have read that the conservative approach can take ages and may result in surgery at the end anyway.

@jinxpixie - why didn't you like Fitzpatrick's? And @VetOnCall at what stage would you introduce hydrotherapy - that sounds like a good plan.

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VetOnCall Wed 08-Apr-20 00:03:23

Honestly it very much depends on each individual case but in the case of conservative management it can be beneficial to implement a physiotherapy programme as soon as possible in order to retain and build up muscle to support the affected joint in an appropriate way (i.e. not exacerbating the existing injury or causing further damage).

Motorina Wed 08-Apr-20 06:50:23

Jinxpixie’s experience of Fitzpatrick’s echo’s mine. Rude, arrogant, far more concerned with how awesome they were than the health of my dog, and failed to communicate with my vet in a way that put her wellbeing at risk.

Would never return.

Ariela Wed 08-Apr-20 07:28:00

Our dog, very very active border collie, rescue, about 18-20kg, aged supposedly about 7 or 8 at the time, was hopping on 3 legs (while still madly chasing a ball trying to get us to play with her).

Vet diagnosed cruciate ligament, we took her in for £500 for xrays to confirm this (can xrays actually show ligament damage? We didn't get to see them). Told £5K+ for op - dog not insured. Took her home and kept her quiet which was very difficult, when was always getting a ball and trying to make us play, but luckily after a day or two post xray the leg actually looked better and by the end of the week she was bearing a little weight. We kept her off exercise, no balls thrown no walks, reduced diet to compensate, for 2-3 months by which time she was running about like a demented headless chicken, weight bearing on all legs equally so we do wonder if that was the actual problem, and whether manipulation under anaesthetic had resolved whatever was the problem.

No trouble since (3 or 4 years on) .

randomsabreuse Wed 08-Apr-20 07:32:30

My lab (28kg) did a partial cruciate as a 1 year old. Diagnosed in retrospect rather than at the time. Was athletic and fine after rest until spinal and digit arthritis caught up with him at about 12.

Veterinari Wed 08-Apr-20 07:40:19

Your vet is giving you sensible advice
Honestly we can't win. Recommending conservative treatment is 'lazy'. I'm pretty sure that offering surgery first would be money-grabbing'

Outcomes depend on the severity of the tear and the weight of the dog. And Fitzpatrick's isn't some miracle service regardless of what the edited tv show may have you believe. If she needs surgery, there are plenty of competent orthopods who can manage a cruciate.

Floralnomad Wed 08-Apr-20 09:16:36

Out of interest can I ask the vets on here would it be damaging to try rest for a few weeks but then have the OP if the rest doesn’t seem to be working or is it something that needs deciding immediately .

DishingOutDone Wed 08-Apr-20 11:51:50

@Veterinari I didn't see anyone say vets were lazy or money grabbing?! I've read that opinion is divided on the "wait and see" approach and seems like this thread is confirming that.

I am glad that I asked as a few of you have said Fitzpatrick's probably isn't worth the journey.

Waving to @Floralnomad as they always had a kind word for me on here when my last dog was dying, 5 years ago last month. I also think they have asked a very pertinent question - is there any actual harm in waiting the two weeks?

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jinxpixie Wed 08-Apr-20 12:17:12

The surgery was ok at Fitz. Very little time spent discussing options with the owners. After care was poor, errors made with medication and sedation for tests.

Anderson Moores however were fantastic smile

Floralnomad Wed 08-Apr-20 12:30:16

Hi dishing , I remember you now . I think the lazy / money grabbing comment was because on here that’s generally what crops up regularly on these threads , basically vets are always in the wrong .

VetOnCall Wed 08-Apr-20 13:47:05

@Floralnomad if the dog has been examined and the vet thinks that conservative treatment is worth a try then it won't do harm (as long as the owners ensure that rest is carefully observed). If things are not improving after a couple of weeks then the dog can be referred for surgery. Again it's all case-dependent - I get some cases where I know that surgery is required, but others I can recommend trying a conservative approach first.

Floralnomad Wed 08-Apr-20 13:53:53

Thanks for that .

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