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Elbow dysplasia (ED) is a developmental disorder particularly of the cartilage in the joints. It can be hereditary, but environmental factors often also contribute to the development of this disorder. Some dogs may experience serious problems due to ED at a young age. In other dogs, severe deformities in the joint only lead to lameness later in life. To really tell if your dog has ED, (digital) radiographs of its joints are needed. The ED examination focuses on four different disorders of the elbow joint. All of these conditions can lead to joint deformities and lameness.
We talk about ED when one of the following conditions is present in an elbow joint:
OCD (Osteochondritis dissecans): loosening of a piece of cartilage of the upper arm.
LPC (Los processus coronoidus): loosening of a piece of bone of the ulna.
LPA (Los processus anconeus): loosening of a piece of bone at a different location of the ulna.
Incongruence: a joint that does not “fit” properly due to an ulna that is too long or too short in relation to the radius.
There may also be multiple disorders in one joint.
Each of the aforementioned abnormalities leads to osteoarthritis after a few months. Osteoarthritis is characterised by:
Changes to the joint (bone reactions) that may occur during the course of the disease process.
The permanent nature of the changes.
Starting pain: lame steps just after getting up.
‘Walking through it’: walking better after some time.
A relapse after much exertion.
Treatment of ED depends partly on the nature and severity of the abnormality, the severity of the symptoms, the dog’s age and any (complicating) arthrotic changes present. Surgical treatment is often required. The vet then removes the detached bone and cartilage fragments (in OCD, LPA and LPC) from the joint. If there is incongruity, he will try to correct it.
Osteoarthritis itself is not surgically treatable, but the cause of osteoarthritis is. It has not been shown that there are drugs that can cure osteoarthritis. However, you can reduce symptoms by appropriate exercise and the use of painkillers.
ED also sometimes occurs in kelpies. Especially OCD, LPC and LPA (loosening of cartilage/bone). It is not always clear whether this stems from heredity or improper use of the dog (-preparing for sport).
Source: Raad van Beheer