You can't beat after-session-cuddles!
Little Margo here has suffered from luxating patella in her left knee since birth. This is a condition where the patella (or kneecap) dislocates or moves out of place. It is particularly common in small and miniature breeds and graded out of four, with grade three meaning the patella remains luxated most of the time and grade four meaning the patella is luxated permanently and cannot be manually repositioned.
Due to Margo being between grade 3 and 4, surgery was the best advised treatment for her. After which, is where veterinary physiotherapy comes in. I first saw Margo four weeks after her surgery and although the surgery had been successful, she had pain and reduced function in the left hind. She tendered to favour the right hind, weight bearing on the left as little as possible and atrophy (muscle loss) of the left hind could be easily observed and palpated due to the fact she had not been using it as much. Furthermore, the right hind felt very hypertonic (increased muscle tone- or tight) because she had been compensating with this limb and her back was also sore, possibly due to her attempting to transfer her weight off of her left hind onto her forelimbs.
Additionally, due to all of the handling and examinations Margo had experienced, she was very wary of being handled and assessed by myself, which made things slightly more tricky. I feel passionately that my clients should enjoy their treatment or have a positive experience in order that they co-operate and respond to the work I do with them. If they do not enjoy the treatment or are very wary, results are often not as good because they are not relaxed and receptive.
In our first few sessions, Margo was very guarded and cautious of me. To overcome this, we took her first few sessions very slowly, with lots of breaks between any work that we did and I stopped anytime she showed me signs that she was not enjoying the treatment. We also gave her lots of praise and treats too which always helps! This meant that by her fourth session, she knew the drills and really relaxed in my company, allowing me to get on with helping her!
Veterinary physiotherapy care for Margo consisted of massage, passive range of motion and LASER therapy. Paying attention to the compensatory problems Margo possessed such as her hypertonic right hind muscles and her sore back as well as her painful left hind. I also gave her owners some gentle remedial exercises to begin to work and strengthen the left hind muscles to make the joint more stable.
Margo is now regaining muscle and function and is feeling so much more comfortable on the left hind. I am very happy with her progress and look forward to seeing her in her next few sessions!
If you would like to find out more or have any queries on whether your animal may benefit from veterinary physiotherapy, don’t hesitate to contact me by phone, email, or visiting my website where you can find more of my contact details.