Luxating Patella: Olive's story

What is a Patella Luxation? Does my pet knee(d) surgery?

The patella ligament is a tendon that is attached to the kneecap. This ligament runs from the large thigh muscles to the shin bone or tibia. When the thigh muscles are contracted, this pulls on the shin bone, causing the knee to straighten. The patella sits in the trochlear grove which helps keep it in place. A luxating patella is essentially the kneecap (patella) being out of place or dislocating out of the trochlear groove. Your dog may be seen ‘skipping’ or appear lame (unable to walk).

What are the causes?

•Genetics: small breeds such as Maltese, Chihuahua, Poodle, and Bichon Frise can be prone.

•Anatomy and abnormal movement:  In bowlegged dogs for example, the patellar ligament is not on the centre of the shin bone. The inner side of the groove in the femur wears down causing the patella to dislocate. Patellar luxations are graded from Grade 1-4 (from mild to severe dislocation). If left unresolved, other injuries, such as a torn cruciate (knee ligament) and arthritis can occur.

Can it be treated? Thankfully, there is an option for surgical repair.

Veterinary Nurse, Heidi shares her experience when her own Brussels Griffon, Olive underwent surgical treatment after a diagnosis of patella luxation:

'Olive has always been a happy little dog, but a few years ago we noticed that sometimes she would walk like a “cowboy” or stare back at her hindleg while walking. Fast forward a couple of years and after learning that Olive’s luxating patella was now severe (Grade 4) we decided to bite the bullet and go ahead with the surgery. Since having her patella fixed, we have noticed that Olive is much more active and bouncy. We now realise that things that we had thought were due to her being “lazy” (like lying around a lot or not wanting to jump on the bed) must have actually been due to leg pain. Nowadays she loves running around and keeping up with her crazy pug brother Winston!'