What precisely are Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets?

When watching a sporting event, you probably grimace when you see an athlete fall to the ground grasping their knee. You know they likely tore their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the primary ligaments responsible for knee stability.

Did you know that your pet can tear the same knee ligament? Although referred to by a different name — cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) —the issue is identical.

What exactly is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

The cranial cruciate ligament, which connects the thigh bone (i.e., femur) to the leg bone (i.e., tibia), is crucial for knee joint stability. When the CCL ruptures or tears, the shin moves away from the femur as your companion walks, resulting in instability and pain.

What causes cranial cruciate ligament injuries in pets?

Numerous factors contribute to the rupture or laceration of the canine or feline CCL, including:

  • Ligament degeneration
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy physical condition
  • Genetics
  • skeletal configuration and form
  • Breed

In general, CCL ruptures result from the gradual degeneration of the ligament over months or years, as opposed to an acute injury to a healthy ligament.

What are the symptoms of a torn cranial cruciate ligament in pets?

A CCL tear, mainly a partial tear, can produce symptoms of varying severity, making it difficult for pet owners to determine if their pet requires veterinary care. However, a ruptured CCL requires medical attention, and you must schedule an appointment with our team if your companion exhibits the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness on a hind leg
  • Difficulty standing after sitting
  • Problem during the process of sitting
  • Difficulty jumping into the car or on furniture
  • Decreased activity level
  • Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
  • Reduced range of motion in the knee

How is a torn cranial cruciate ligament repaired?

The treatment for a torn CCL will depend on your companion’s level of activity, size, age, and degree of knee instability. Instability can only be managed permanently through osteotomy or suture-based techniques, so surgery is typically the best option. Nevertheless, medical management may also be a possibility.

A torn cranial cruciate ligament may cause a hind-leg limp in your companion. To schedule an orthopedic examination, please get in touch with our staff.