Jumping Problems Part 2

Previously, I looked at the biomechanics of jumping and different styles. This time I am going to describe jumping injuries that I commonly see.

I have broken the injuries down into injuries that occur or manifest themselves at take-off, those that occur in flight and those that occur on landing.

Physical Problems at Take-off.

  1. This is a problem that can go undiscovered for some time. Many of the breeds competing at agility suffer from conditions that can affect vision. Some of these may be identifiable in the young dog e.g. Collie Eye Anomaly, others can develop later in life e.g. Progressive Retinal Atrophy and cataract. The onset of these latter conditions is insidious and progress of the disease is slow. Specialist veterinary ophthalmologists are best placed to diagnose these conditions.

Most physical problems at take-off are hind leg problems. Whilst injury to rear feet, hocks and stifle do occur, most of the issues relate to the transfer of the upwards thrust once the front legs have left the ground. The areas usually involved are the hip joint, the sacroiliac joint and the lumbosacral junction.

Common problems seen in the hip are inflammation in and around the joint and tightness in the muscles, particularly iliopsoas

Fig.1-2

 

and pectineous. These dogs usually resent hip extension. Treatment protocols include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS,) controlled exercise, laser, hydrotherapy, stretching, limb strengthening and acupuncture.

The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) in the dog (this is where the pelvis joints the spinal column should have between 7-15 degrees of movement.

Fig.2 2

Irritation or inflammation in this area causes pain as the thrust of the back legs is transferred through the SIJ. Dogs with SIJ issues will often show pain in the area but also tightness and soreness in the priformis muscle

Fig.3

which is important along with the gluteal group of muscle for hip extension. Hip flexion may be resented. Treatment protocols include NSAIDS, controlled exercise, massage, joint mobilisation, laser and strengthening exercises.

Problems at the lumbosacral junction usually involve the disc.

Fig.4

The discs are located between the bodies of the vertebrae that make up the spinal column. The discs are like big bags of jelly and change shape as the spine flexes and extends. However, the discs can also so bulge in the wrong direction and put pressure on nerve tissue causing pain, incoordination and other neurological signs. With the lumbosacral disc the bulging can be a dynamic problem. i.e. the disc only bulges when the front legs leave the ground and the weight of the dog is passed down the spinal column at the same time as the back legs are trusting upwards and forwards. These dogs often refuse to take-off. Sometimes there is pain in the lumbosacral area. Sometimes an MRI scan is required to identify the problem and in some cases the MRI has to be done with the lumbosacral junction flexed in the position of take-off to demonstrate the dynamic lesion. Treatment protocols depend on severity of the lesion. Mild cases can be treated with NSIADS, controlled exercise, joint mobilisations, laser, shockwave and hydrotherapy. With more severe cases a long acting steroid is injected into the lumbosacral junction. Very severe case may require surgery having the disc material removed or the vertebrae pulled apart and held in the distracted position with pins and screws.

In article 3 I look at problems that occur during flight and on landing.