An alternative to CCL surgery
Leo, a 68 pound, 5 year old chow mix, ruptured his right CCL and his owner decided not to pursue surgery. Leo was receiving acupuncture every 6 weeks and Adequan injections weekly for his pain. Despite these measures, he was still not utilizing the right hindleg 9 months after the injury. His gait was stiff with restricted extension of all four limbs.
Since much time had passed since the injury, Leo’s muscles had contracted (and others had stretched) to compensate for his 3-legged movement. I began a biweekly regimen which included massage to balance the muscle lengths across the hindlimbs and reduce strain on his back and acupressure to support the ligaments and reduce pain. Simultaneously we started Leo on a low-impact exercise and stretching routine with the goals of shedding a few pounds, strengthening the smaller supporting muscles in the injured leg, and stretching the contracted hamstrings.
After the first session, Leo began using his right hindleg intermittently. After 3 sessions, his gait had evened out such that he was utilizing the injured leg for balance, but not yet for weight bearing. Three months – and 6 sessions – into treatment and Leo was bearing weight evenly across his hindlegs for the first time in over a year. He was no longer receiving acupuncture or Adequan injections and did not exhibit signs of pain.
Since Leo is a large dog, he will always need to be careful. Long runs and jumping will not be part of his future as the joint will never be as strong as it would have been with a ligament repair. However, his owner reports that he is doing well on hikes and even running for short distances. For his part, Leo is excited to once again be able to sprint after squirrels and romp and play with his siblings.