But what if surgery is not an option? What if the anesthesia is too risky because the dog has another condition, like heart disease? Or what if the owners are not able to afford to have the surgery done? Repairing a ruptured cruciate ligament is a major orthopedic procedure, ranging from $1000-$3000 depending on what surgery is done and who does it. Or what if the owners, for other reasons, have decided that they are not going to do surgery? Can we still help their dog, or is it condemned to a lifetime of pain and suffering?
The short answer is that I can help them all to some degree. Those dogs with meniscal injuries as well as an ACL tear should still have surgery, but partial tears and even full tears, surgical or not, can benefit from physical rehabilitation. We can help improve their function, their strength, and maintain the joint's range of motion in many cases. We can help prevent partial tears from becoming full tears. Without surgery, rehab is really the only chance to help these dogs. And if a dog has had surgery then post-op therapy is still recommended for both the injured leg and the good leg ,as most dogs will tear the ligament in the other knee within 2 years. Rehab should definitely be part of the treatment plan for any dog with a torn ACL. I will discuss cruciate disease in more detail is weeks to come.