Understanding Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets

When you witness an athlete clutching their knee and grimacing during a sporting event, you are likely aware that they have likely experienced a tear in their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a crucial ligament that stabilizes the knee.

But did you know that your beloved pet can also suffer from a similar knee ligament tear? Although referred to by a different name, namely the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), the issue remains the same.

What is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

The cranial cruciate ligament, which connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia), plays a vital role in stabilizing the knee joint. When the CCL ruptures or tears, the shin bone moves forward as your pet walks, leading to instability and discomfort.

How does the cranial cruciate ligament become damaged in pets?

Several factors contribute to the rupture or tear of the CCL in pets, including:

  • Degeneration of the ligament
  • Obesity
  • Poor physical condition
  • Genetic factors
  • Skeletal shape and structure
  • Breed predisposition

In general, CCL rupture occurs due to the gradual degeneration of the ligament over an extended period, rather than being the result of an acute 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 various degrees of severity, making it challenging for pet owners to determine if their pet requires veterinary care. However, a CCL rupture necessitates medical attention, and it is essential to schedule an appointment with our team if your pet exhibits the following signs:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness in a hind leg
  • Difficulty standing after sitting
  • Challenges while attempting to sit
  • Difficulty jumping into the car or onto furniture
  • Reduced activity level
  • Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
  • Decreased range of motion in the knee

How can a torn cranial cruciate ligament be repaired?

The 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 most effective option, as it allows for permanent management of the instability through osteotomy or suture-based techniques. However, medical management may also be considered.

If you observe hind leg limping in your pet, it is possible that they have experienced a tear in their cranial cruciate ligament. Please contact our team to schedule an orthopedic examination.