Dysplasia of elbow in dogs

Elbow dysplasia is a degenerative disease that is very common in young dogs. Dogs elbow is a more consistent and stable body, joints allowing, for its complexity, two axes or degrees of movement supinacion-pronacion of forearm, flexion-extension. Its complexity is given by its composition: humeroradial, humeroulnar and proximal radioulnar articulation.

Initially elbow dysplasia was used to describe the non-union (UPA) anconeus process. Currently, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) of the medial condyle of the humerus, the fragment of the process coronoid (FPC), and the incongruity of the elbow (INC) also fall within this term. When an elbow one of these defects of ossification, an inflammation arises and eventually fired arthritis in which occurs the degeneration of cartilage; for this reason, all of these conditions are commonly associated with the osteoatrosis of this joint and are important cause of pain and surrender of former members in large and giant breed dogs like German Shepherd, Labrador, San Bernardo, Rottweiler, Neapolitan Mastiff, among others.

Multifactorial genetic, especially in the OCD and the FPC. Affects more males than females and can give way uni or bilateral. The genetic component is the most influential although the occurrence of this pathology can also occur by power, weight, environment, quality of the ligaments, plenty of physical exercise, or trauma.

Early symptoms may occur 4-5 months when the dog shows intolerance to exercise, limping to the start a movement or after prolonged exercise. There are dogs that show no signs of the condition in the elbow until advanced age where the process of osteoarthritis is very evolved. Others get to maintain a normal level of activity during their lifetime.

The fact of performing a diagnostic radiological premature does that he is to establish appropriate treatment and avoids the formation of arthritis that causes pain and functional limitation of the elbow during the lifetime of the animal. Diagnosis can be complemented with tests like the CT or MRI diagnostic

The evolution depends on the degree and type of injury, but is usually unfavorable without surgery. Surgical treatment gives good result if degenerative changes have not yet beenin the joint. In either case, it is necessary to make a good rehabilitation in order to:

  •  Accelerate the recovery process
  •  Eliminate pain and inflammation
  • Lessen the lameness
  •  Maintain or improve range of motion
  •  Keep tone, mass and muscle strength
  •  Minimize or slow degeneration effects joint - osteoarthritis
  •  Avoid compensation at the level of the neck, spine and extremities
  •  Give maximum capacities so that the animal is functional and that, with a good quality of life

Physiotherapy treatment varies depending on the animal and of the State of the injury. It is important to begin treatment as soon as possible to make this effective, and to avoid dry as disabilities and/or chronic pain.

The animal goes through different phases until total recovery.  It is imperative to gradually achieve the objectives. It occurs terminate the recovery process when the animal is suitable to carry out daily activities.

During the first three days after surgery, it is important to act on the inflammation and pain, prevent to appear muscular atrophy and articulate arc decrease. Passive techniques that reduce inflammation, produce analgesia and help maintain tone, mass and mobility arc are used for this. These techniques (segmental TENS and muscle stimulation) electrotherapy include massage, passive mobilizations and cryotherapy (cold).  

In dogs dog or higher that the objectives have not been intervened will be the same as in animals that have passed through an intervention. It is important to eliminate the pain with pain it can not work.

It is important to des first massage and move the affected elbow provided there is no contraindication veterinary and, in the case of fixation, the period of healing and joining the fixed parts. The massage and move the affected limb and the area helps maintain mobility, prevents the loss of mass and tone and works the proprioceptors.


A gentle mobilization combined with different massage techniques help to reduce inflammation and reduce the pain. 

With the TENS at the segmental level we can produce analgesia and reduce the amount of administered drugs. There are animals that have intolerance to certain drugs that produce analgesia and the tens pain can reduce it. TENS, can also be used directly over the area injured or operated, always i when there is no osteosynthesis equipment below, an internal burn could occur.


The Electro-muscle stimulation It helps to prevent the onset of atrophy and maintain mass and muscle tone. With electrical stimuli we can stimulate the nerve conduction.

At the beginning and at the end of the session using the cold Since it has properties that Act on the reduction of the inflammatory response, swelling and pain.

Starting the fourth day and during the next two weeks when the inflammation and pain have gone it is time to introduce simple Active exercises make the hand or small walks with belt to force to the animal make equal support four limbs and thus avoid appearing an imbalance between ends by not having a proper support on the ground. Rides is an exercise that increases the duration until total recovery.

Once you have brought points can enter the animal in the water. The benefits of water are used to improve recovery. The hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill) It facilitates station of the animal without loss of balance and, thanks to the flotation, without having to put up with all his weight. The flotation allows work animals with bone pain and with low muscle mass. The water pressure exerted on the body of the animal increases sensitivity and reduces swelling and edema. Work in the water, underwater tapes or swimming It increases as the animal is recovering. In addition, with water, we can retrieve the motor pattern, increasing mass, tone, and strength, work breathing capacity and maintain and/or improve mobility.

Once the acute phase last 48-72 hours and without the risk of infection or inflammation, can be entered heat help elastificar tissues, reduces pain and increases vascularization among others.

The use of tables, dishes, balls and trampolines they are important to work balance, proprioception, and above all the integration of the affected extremity.

It is already in the final phase, from two weeks, when the dog has integrated the walking pattern, exercises are done to improve lquality of the movement. Active exercises are more complex to integrate the limb or affected limbs. Active exercises and proprioception is achieved to increase the tone, mass and muscle strength; work coordination and balance and range of motion. Rails with different surfaces, are used cones, bars, circuitsup and down stairs and ramps)staircase with inclined plane).

During all treatment recovery and in animals with developed osteoarthritis is essential to reduce the weight on the joints of the elbows. For this purpose they are used support special harnesses for elbows. In addition to reducing weight, pain is reduced and not hinder the movement, the animal feels more comfortable; the joint is protected at all times from scratches and bumps, and helps maintain the own heat given off by the animal, which leads to relief of the affected area.

A few special care animals suffering from conditions at the elbows should be at home.  These care is needed during and after the treatment:

  • Avoid slippery floors
  • Avoiding ramps and stairs at the beginning of the treatment in operated animals and animals that make conservative treatment. Rehabilitated once can be used to help raise the sofa and car ramps, since it is advisable not to do it alone, could have a relapse.
  • Is recommended that rest on a soft, clean surface, but they are firm enough to help the incorporation of animal special dog mattress
  • Keep skin clean and dry skin
  • Use special dishes at its height to avoid subjecting elbows joints
  • Correct diet and weight control. Overweight harms the joints and generates more pain for the animal

It is very important to create a routine of exercise and environment to help keep the animal comfortable and with quality of life.



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