What do Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears mean for Pets?

When observing a sports event, it’s common to flinch when witnessing an athlete collapsing and grasping their knee. It’s a clear indication of a probable tear in their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the crucial ligaments responsible for stabilizing the knee.

But did you know that your furry companion can experience a similar knee ligament tear? Although it goes by a different name, known as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), the issue remains the same.

What does a cranial cruciate ligament tear mean for pets? The cranial cruciate ligament, which connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia), plays a vital role in providing stability to the knee joint. When the CCL ruptures or tears, the shin bone moves forward away from the femur while your pet walks, leading to instability and discomfort.

How does the cranial cruciate ligament become damaged in pets? Various factors contribute to a CCL rupture or tear in pets, including ligament degeneration, obesity, poor physical condition, genetics, skeletal shape, and configuration, as well as breed. In general, CCL ruptures occur due to gradual degeneration over months or years, rather than being caused by a sudden injury to a healthy ligament.

What are the signs of a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets? A CCL tear, especially a partial tear, can manifest in a range of severity, making it challenging for pet owners to determine whether their pet requires veterinary care. However, a CCL rupture requires medical attention, and you should schedule an appointment with our team if your pet displays any of the following signs:

– Pain
– Stiffness
– Lameness in a hind leg
– Difficulty standing up after sitting
– Difficulty during the sitting process
– Trouble jumping into the car or onto furniture
– Decreased activity level
– Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
– Reduced range of motion in the knee

How can a torn cranial cruciate ligament be repaired? Treatment for a torn CCL depends on factors such as your pet’s activity level, size, age, and the degree of knee instability. Surgery is typically the preferred option as it offers a permanent solution to manage the instability, utilizing techniques such as osteotomy or sutures. However, medical management may also be considered as an alternative.

If you notice your pet limping on a hind leg, it’s possible they have torn their cranial cruciate ligament. Contact our team to schedule an orthopedic examination.