Patella luxation


What is patellar luxation?

The kneecap, or patella, lies in a cartilage groove at the lower part of the thigh. A luxation of the patella means that the kneecap slips out of place (inwards or outwards).

The kneecap has an important function in the mechanism of knee flexion. In a luxation of the kneecap, this function falls away. As a result, the dog can no longer support itself properly on this leg. On the right, photo 1 shows a normal knee and photo 2 a dog with patella luxation.

Patella luxation can occur on one leg but we see it more often on both legs. It can occur in all breeds. We do see it more often in small dogs and miniature breeds. Large dogs usually have a lateral (patella outward) luxation, while small dogs most often have a medial (inward) patella luxation.

Causes of patellar luxation

A first cause is genetic anatomical abnormalities: the piece of bone the kneecap attaches to may be too much inward, causing the patella to shift out of the cartilage groove.

The cause may also be traumatic. That is, due to an accident or a wrong jump or fall, the dog tears its patella ligaments (ligaments), causing the patella to move out of the groove.

Thirdly, the patella can luxate as a result of another physical condition: for example, if there is too much cortisol in the body (Cushing’s disease), the ligaments weaken and the kneecap also becomes loose in the groove, allowing it to shift easily. Long-term cortisone treatment or high doses can also trigger this.

Severity and symptoms

A patellar luxation is divided into grades. Ranging from grade 1 (kneecap automatically returns to normal position) to grade 4 (kneecap is permanently luxated and does not return to its groove). The symptoms therefore vary according to the degree of luxation: from very occasional sagging of the leg in question to a permanently abnormal gait. When the kneecap pops back into its socket, the gait is back to normal.

As the kneecap keeps shooting out of its trench, it also causes wear and tear. This wear can eventually cause problems of osteoarthritis.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis is made by a veterinarian and this is based on the story (cause) and by means of a special handle. It is checked whether the kneecap can be easily luxated. X-rays are often not necessary.

Treatment depends on the degree of luxation. Grade 1 luxation is often left untreated. Often, after a course of pain medication, the dog no longer experiences any problems. In a few cases, damage to the joint can occur and the symptoms get worse. It is then best to switch to surgery. Surgery is also recommended from grade 2 onwards.

Patella luxation also occurs in kelpies. Fortunately not very much yet but it cannot be ruled out.

Source: Pharmapets

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