Dog Knee Recovery Without Surgery
By Rosemary Levesque, Licensed Spiritual Healer
Second Nature Healing®https://secondnaturehealing.com
Rosemary@secondnaturehealing.com or call directly 503-747-3307
The following article is written in gratitude to Posh Dog Knee Brace for their support during Gracie’s recovery from a torn CCL. Gracie wore the brace and healed well without surgery. In honor of Gracie who had a long healthy life, I’m offering:
The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) in dogs is a band of connective tissue that connects the upper leg bone (thigh) to the two lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) at the knee joint – called the stifle in dogs. The CCL helps stabilize the stifle, and is highly vulnerable to tears which destabilize the joint. Damage to the knee joint is the leading cause of rear-leg lameness and the major cause of degenerative joint disease in dogs. (1)
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There are many situations that could result in a CCL tear:
Contributing factors like obesity, genetics, and general health may also have a role in causing a torn CCL. Since animals are excellent at hiding their injuries and illnesses, you’ll want to be especially observant if you suspect a tear. In addition to limping or lameness, watch for muscle atrophy in the thigh or imbalance in the spine.
When Gracie jumped into the car as usual one beautiful spring day after a pleasant walk in the park, she yelped in pain. Yet after her initial jolt, she seemed fine. She ate and walked normally for several weeks until we had our next vet visit, a yearly wellness check-up. Suddenly she picked up her hind leg, revealing her lameness. It surprised me that she’d wait until we were in his office to say something about her problem. She hadn’t shown me any sign of lameness since the incident a few weeks prior.
A veterinary examination for stifle injury usually includes manipulation of the joint and is called a “drawer test”. Physical manipulation of the joint forces the ligaments to stretch and tear more. Unfortunately, it was an issue and Gracie became obviously lame after that. That’s why I add this test to the list of causes. Even if a small tear already exists, it can worsen after such manipulation. If you suspect a torn CCL, do NOT allow your vet to perform the drawer test.
Our vet suggested that we see a specialist for CCL surgery. He also offered cold laser treatments at his clinic to help speed healing and recovery. I felt hopeful about Gracie’s healing and recovery with the healing methods I already know and use. So, in addition to frequent cold laser treatments, my plan included Reiki, essential oils, and acupuncture. I opted to not have invasive, expensive surgery.
The most common response to a torn CCL is to perform a surgery called Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO). In this surgery, the tibia, a lower leg bone, is cut (leveled) and rotated to change the direction of movement. A plate is added to secure the new location of the joint. Following weeks of immobility and pain management with medications the problem may be resolved. The cost of surgery and x-rays may range from $2500 to upwards of $6000.
However, cost isn’t the only issue to consider. Weeks of restrained immobility are not only depressing for your active animal, but difficult to control and have other effects such as weight gain, muscle atrophy, and risk of infection as well as the risks associated with the surgery itself. Pain medications can often have harmful side-effects. More importantly, studies now show a definite link between TPLO surgery and osteosarcoma (bone cancer) at the site of surgery.
“. . . dogs with a history of TPLO were 40 times as likely to develop proximal tibial osteosarcoma as were dogs with no history of TPLO. In addition, each 1-kg (2.2-lb) increase in body weight was associated with an 11% increase in the odds of proximal tibial osteosarcoma.” (2)
What’s really best for your dog? Is there another way?
Gracie did well with the holistic methods I used to support her healing. Most importantly, we were still able to walk her short distances while she gradually improved. We purchased a set of stairs for the car so she wouldn’t jump into the car anymore to risk further injury. We added specific supplements to support joint healing and repair.
All of it worked pretty well until one cold winter day when Gracie slipped on the ice. She reinjured her CCL and was in obvious pain. Back to the start once again, I panicked and scheduled an appointment with a surgeon for that week. Fortunately, my intuition told me to keep looking. That’s when I found the REAL ANSWER that saved Gracie’s knee and allowed her to heal – finally – without surgery.
I began searching for a knee brace for Gracie and discovered that they fall into several categories:
Of course, the custom fit seemed like the better way to go, and quality, durability, and customer service and support were also important. That’s when I finally found Posh Dog Knee Brace. (3) They provide a way to make a custom fit brace with highly durable materials that are waterproof (and beach-proof) and long-lasting with a superior guarantee. Their fast service provided us with a custom-fit brace for Gracie in just days.
Immediately on the first try-on, Gracie was able to take her first steps. We started using the brace for short walks until she regained her strength and balance. That’s when I noticed how much she had been compensating for her injury. She was finally able to walk straight without limping, and without any curve or adjustment in her spine. The thigh muscles which had atrophied began to get strong once again. We continued with natural healing techniques and tools which were much more effective now that Gracie had the support of her brace to stabilize the stifle.
There may be little difference in perceived success when comparing TPLO surgery to using an ordinary or inferior knee brace (one that doesn’t fit properly or doesn’t fully support the stifle joint). I believe the real differences come in the form of ease and comfort while healing as well as from the quality of the brace. Many of the sites I investigated, including articles from the American Veterinary Association, Veterinary Medicine websites, and holistic journals gave a more comprehensive picture. Surgeons at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania don’t use TPLO surgery.
Dr. Amy Kapatkin, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon says, “Why break a bone to fix a ligament” (4)
It’s critical to support healing from every angle while the stifle joint is stabilized.
 Association of tibial plateau leveling osteotomy with proximal tibial osteosarcoma in dogs
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
September 15, 2018, Vol. 253, No. 6, Pages 752-756
Laura E. SelmicBVetMed, MPH; Stewart D. Ryan BVSc, MS; Audrey Ruple DVM, PhD; William E. Pass DVM; Stephen J. Withrow DVM
Flint Animal Cancer Center, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523. (Selmic, Ryan, Pass, Withrow); Department of Comparative Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907. (Ruple)