How many times have you watched your dog limp to his water bowl or pass up an opportunity to play catch? You might assume it’s old age, but your dog may be suffering from a joint injury that’s trapping him in chronic pain.
A dislocated kneecap condition like a luxating patella is common in dogs, especially smaller breeds. Your dog doesn’t have to accept daily pain as a permanent part of his life- and neither do you. In this post, you’ll learn more about this injury and the best ways to fix it.
How Does a Dislocated Kneecap Develop?
A dislocated kneecap occurs when a dog’s kneecap (patella) moves out of place (luxates). This is why a dislocated kneecap is known as a luxating patella.
Normally, the almond-shaped kneecap sits comfortably on the front of the knee joint. It sits in a groove of cartilage on the femur and moves smoothly up and down to create joint flexibility and durability. However, dogs with luxating patellas have a shallow femur groove that allows the patella to slide too far out of place.
This usually happens as a result of the kneecap sitting off-center on the shinbone. When the patella is located too close to the inside of the leg, every contraction of the thigh muscle places excessive strain on the kneecap. Years of such abnormal movement wears away the groove in the femur and gives the patella space to pop in and out.
Symptoms of a Trick Knee in Dogs
A dislocated kneecap can occur in any dog, but smaller breeds are more likely to suffer this injury. Maltese, Chihuahua, Bichon Frise dogs, and other small breeds are often born with a genetic predisposition for this dislocated kneecap condition. Some large dog breeds are vulnerable, including Golden Retrievers, Huskies, St. Bernards, and Labrador Retrievers.
It isn’t always easy to identify a trick knee in dogs, especially if it isn’t causing pain. If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms, a dislocated kneecap may be the root cause of:
- Frequently kicking his leg to the side and hyperextending it (this movement snaps the patella back into place temporarily)
- Limping periodically or skips steps when he walks
- Hesitantly letting one of his paws touch the ground
Despite these symptoms, most dogs don’t experience severe pain from a dislocated kneecap. Discomfort only becomes unbearable when arthritis sets in.
Dogs with arthritis and a luxating patella are more likely to whine, tremble, and whimper. They lose interest in their favorite physical activities and spend more time lying down and sleeping.
This is why it’s so important to watch for worsening symptoms and take precautions to reduce the impacts of your dog’s dislocated kneecap on his quality of life.
Can a Dislocated Kneecap Be Prevented?
A dislocated kneecap can’t be prevented if your dog is genetically predisposed to develop the condition, but its effects can be minimized.
Jumping exacerbates a dog’s trick knee more than any other behavior. Since dogs must shift their weight back to jump on or off of a surface, the knees and hips suffer the effects of excess weight and pressure. This force can pop the kneecap in and out and ultimately make the joint more vulnerable to a luxating patella.
It’s even worse for small dogs because they have a longer distance to jump. The distance from the floor to the couch doesn’t look like much, but it’s a huge leap for small dogs.
As a result, the easiest way to minimize the effects of a dislocated kneecap is to reduce your dog’s need to jump. You can do this by training your dog to use stools, ottomans, and other step-up tools.
The Best Treatment Options for a Dislocated Kneecap in Dogs
The best treatment for your dog’s luxating patellas depends on how mild or severe his condition has become.
Mild Cases of Luxating Patellas
Mild and intermittent cases of luxating patellas can be improved efficiently with stem cell therapy.
Stem cell therapy is the injection of millions of powerful, concentrated stem cells into the kneecap and surrounding areas. As soon as stem cells sense the inflammation and injury caused by a luxating patella, they race through the bloodstream and attach themselves to the damaged tissues. Stem cells create biochemicals that counteract the injury and inflammation and stimulate accelerated healing.
This regenerative process naturally reduces the aches and pain caused by a dislocated kneecap, even though it can’t fix the kneecap dysfunction itself. Stem cell therapy can even slow the development of arthritis in the damaged knee.
Severe Cases of Luxating Patellas
Severe cases of luxating patellas may not respond to stem cell therapy alone. If the kneecap is dislocated at all times or has been ravaged by arthritis, surgery is the only answer. Dogs with advanced dislocated knee conditions can barely walk or hinge their knees. They’re in excruciating pain all day, every day.
Surgery is the gold standard treatment for dislocated kneecaps. It corrects the knee in three specific places to deepen the groove meant to hold the kneecap, stop the legs from bowing, and tighten the joint capsule.
Luxating patella surgery corrects the anatomy of the knee and helps your dog move with more comfort, but it cannot reverse chronic arthritis of the knee. Which is why stem cell therapy is frequently used to supplement the surgery recovery process. It not only accelerates and strengthens post-surgical healing, but it also combats the inflammation that makes arthritis so painful.
A Dislocated Kneecap Doesn’t Have to Define Your Dog’s Life
It’s your immediate instinct to fix any problem that threatens your dog’s health or happiness. That’s what makes you such a compassionate and loving pet owner. Fortunately, a dislocated kneecap can be treated effectively with preventative measures, stem cell therapy, surgery, or a combination of all three.
At Stem Cells for Dogs, we believe in the power of stem cell therapy because we’ve seen it with our own eyes. By minimizing inflammation and enhancing the health of arthritic joints, stem cell therapy can bolster the longevity of your dog’s happy, comfortable, energetic lifestyle.