Dog hip and elbow dysplasia are common complaints.  Dysplasia means that the joint has developed in such a way as to be less than perfect.  So for instance in the case of hip dysplasia, the ball and socket that make up the hip joint are not a perfect match.  This can range from a slight wobble of the ball in the scket to no ball and no socket.  Hip and elbow dysplasia are common causes of arthritis and lameness. Hip dysplasia is often found associated with large breeds of dogs and start at a few months of age.

 Hip Dysplasia

The canine hip joint is a ball and socket joint, with a ball on the top of the thigh bone (femor) and a socket (acetabulum) in the pelvis.  The ball is held in the socket by a central (teres) ligament and a tough joint capsule.  The joint is then supported by a series of muscles that also act to flex, extend and rotate the joint.  Hip dysplasia is partly genetic but the genetics is not for the bone shape but for the strength of the soft tissues that hold the bones in the correct position.  If the soft tissues such as the ligaments and joint capsule stretch more than they should this will result in abnormal wear of the bones and it is these changes that can be seen on an X-ray.  This abnormal wear also results in osetoarthritis.  Factors such as weight and over activity on soft growing bones are factors that also contribute.

Elbow Dyspasia

Elbow dysplasia covers three different conditions; fragmented coronoid process of the ulna, osteochondritis of the humerus and ununited anconeal process of the ulna.  The elbow is a complex joint involving three bones; the humerus that comes down from the shoulder, radius which runs down to the carpus (wrist) and the ulna.  The ulna runs down to the carpus and also forms the point of the elbow.  For the elbow to function perfectly all three bones must grow precisely.  Any non-alignment will result in abnormal wear and one of the conditions mentioned above.  All will lead to osteoarthritis.

How is Dog hip and elbow dysplasia treated?

If your dog shows any sign of lameness it is important to seek veterinary advice.  The vet will be able to advise on treatment and prescribe pain medication.  Both hip and elbow dysplasia can be treated surgically or non-surgically.

There is no complete cure forr hip and elbow dysplasia. The role of Physio-Vet is to offer options to alleviate the clinical signs. What we offer is a better quality of life for your pet with reduced pain. In patients with mild dysplasia we help control the pain, stimulate healing and build muscle to support the affected joints.  Our treatments also help with pets who have had joint replacements as a result of hip or elbow dysplasia.  Physiotherapy treatments such as laser and manual therapies can help control pain, help repair joint surfaces whilst maintaining or even increasing the range of motion in the affected joints.

Non-surgical interventions for dog hip and elbow dysplasia include weight control, exercise control, and medication. Weight control is crucial as the less weight the dog carries the less pressure there is on the joint. Exercise is very important. We have an underwater treadmill that can help dogs with dysplasia to exercise. Of course, these are complimentary to any medications that a veterinary prescribes.

If your pet is suffering from hip or elbow dysplasia and you would like to explore treatment options, get in touch!


Fig.11.8 Severe hip dysplasia may be treated with total hip replacement, but in most cases this is not required.

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