Today we want to talk and educate you on Meniscus tears, and what they mean for your dog. Say you just got back from a visit to your vet, to find out your dog has a CCL tear with a Meniscus tear as well. Now what? Your vet I am sure has gone over all of the surgical implications for this problem I am sure, but have they explained what the meniscus is? How important it is to have in our knee, or what the function is? No, most likely they have quoted you for removing the meniscus, and the CCL repair only. Now I do know many Veterinarians that will try conservative management first, and a very huge thank you to those vets!
Well, you are in the right place. Our goal at Posh is to give you, as the dog mom and dad, options. Yes, you heard me, there are options with a Meniscus tear, not just surgery. Think of yourself for a minute. If you go into any orthopedic Doctors office, would they simply take an xray and schedule you for immediate removal of your meniscus? Absolutely not. There would be follow up appointments, probably an MRI to confirm, and then they would go over the options. Yes, there is that word again. Options.
What is the meniscus? Well, There are actually 2 menisci in each knee. The Menisci is a C shaped component made up of cartilage, and composed of collagen and joint fluid. 70% of the menisci is made of fluid that will compress with normal movement and release synovial fluid into the joint so that the knee can easily move. They act as our shock-absorbers and buffers, like in a car or truck.
With a CCL tear, it is very common to have a meniscal tear. There are several grades of tears, from a small tear, toa complete folding over of the meniscus. In most cases, the patient will have a minor tear. With this you may hear a pop or clicking sound. These tears are minor, and do well with bracing and Physical Therapy and Adequan Injections.
You can see now how it is very important not to completely remove the meniscus, as some vets may suggest prematurely. Now if the meniscus is folded over, usually you will see the knee sticking and unable to bend correctly. This is a surgical issue, and will need corrected.
Removing the meniscus almost always leads to arthritis and chronic lameness, as you just took out the joint’s buffer. Only if the meniscus has folded over, and I have seen this only twice in over 4,000 patients, will you need to consider removal.
It will take several months to heal, but healing is possible! Usually bracing for 12 months during activities, along with supplements and a good diet are enough to let the meniscus recover. Let us know if you have any questions, and we are happy to help your dog!
Nikki, Posh Lead Veterinary Technician