A few months ago I jumped off of an office chair and tweaked my leg and then I was done. Honestly, the vet said this would have happened regardless because it is a degenerative issue, but the jump definitely sped up the process a bit. Had I known this was going to happen, I probably wouldn’t have jumped off the chair, but what’s done is done.
I tore my ACL (actually known as a CCL in animals). In fact, I managed to tear both CCLs on my back legs!
For those of you that don’t know, the CCL is the ligament that basically attaches the lower half of the leg to the upper half of the leg and keeps it all stable and in line. When that is ripped or torn, the lower half of the leg starts to wiggle around a lot which causes swelling and pain in the knee joint. The same thing as an ACL in humans.
For the last few month since I fell off the chair I rested and didn’t barely walk and then slowly graduated to doing more exercise slowly while maintaining the pain using prescribed anti-inflammatories made specifically for dogs like Metacam (dogs can not have the same anti-inflammatories as humans BTW). This is basically called the medical method for treatment. We tried to allow the muscles to build around the knee and the scar tissue to build between the bones to create stability for the joint. This did not happen and once we started back on a somewhat normal routine my legs got worse.
That brings us to surgery.
The surgical option is the route we are going to have to go if I ever want to walk without pain. The surgical method for fixing this is pretty interesting and surprisingly different from how they fix it in humans. In humans they replace the CCL with a cadaver tendon or a piece of the person’s own tendons from somewhere else in the body. This works because there is a lot of blood flow from human’s big leg muscles, but dogs do not have that therefore dogs need a different method for CCL repair.
What’s gonna happen?
The first step is to loose weight! They are doing a thyroid test to make sure that there isn’t some unlying cause for why I am not loosing weight, but my doc says it might be because my metabolism was lower from hiking and once I stopped hiking my metabolism hasn’t caught up and so I’m gaining weight instead of loosing it even though I am on a restricted diet. So if thyroid is all well and good, I will have to revisit my diet and figure out how to loose weight without actually exercising.
Once i loose weight, the next step is to schedule the surgery. Terrifying.
The surgery itself is very interesting but scary. Basically what the surgeon will do is open up my knee (ouch!) and take an artificial ligament suture and attach it from the femur to the tibia. This will hold the knee together and stabilize it while the muscle and scar tissue build around it to make a more firm and permanent hold.
This particular knee surgery with this particular doctor on a dog like myself has a 90% success rate.
How long before I’m hiking again?
Well, since I have to have both legs done, and since they can’t be done at the same time, it’s going to potentially be a while. The first leg has a recovery time from 8-10 weeks, but since it will be a couple of weeks before I can even have the surgery, it will be the end of summer before that one is healed. After the first surgery I am going to have to plan for the second. The humans will probably wait for the healed leg to be working normally and get me on a normal routine. They will watch how my walking is effected and keep an eye on that second leg. Sometimes the second leg actually gets a chance to heal on it’s own because the other leg is stronger and can support it, but that’s not likely. So a few weeks (maybe 2, maybe 4) after my first surgery is fully recovered, I go in for the other surgery which is another 8-10 weeks which means I will be fine by.. oh… say Christmas.
Check out this video of me getting my leg examined and see how the doc shows the cranial drawer movement with my back leg. (i hated every minute of it )
Another little message I would like to communicate to all of you:
Did you know that if you have dental work after a surgery such as this one where something is implanted inside of your body you can be at risk for complications at that surgery site? The doc said that when you get dental work done a bunch of bacteria is put in to your system which is normally cleaned out by your immune system, but if you have a surgery site that is still healing or freshly healed, the bacteria will attack that site and infect it! People have actually died from this! So this is a notice to you all for yourselves and your dogs, do not get a dental surgery after an implant surgery! So because of all of this, I will also be having to get a dental done before I go under the knife.
This is a lot for a little dog to handle, so I am going to go to bed now.