Shoulder injuries in dogs don’t get a lot of attention but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. And they can be difficult both to diagnose and treat.
There used to be a time when I only became concerned when my dog started limping on a hind leg. That is until my dog did hurt her shoulder.
The shoulder joint is highly mobile, and it is stabilized by soft tissues, which include the joint capsule, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. That makes it vulnerable to soft tissue injuries.
Further information: The Shoulder in the Working Dog
Shoulder conditions in dogs include muscle strains and tears, shoulder capsule disorders, and tendon disorders. Problems can arise from both acute or repetitive trauma.
Further information; The Canine Shoulder: Selected Disorders and Their Management with Physical Therapy
As I learned, shoulder injuries in dogs can be painful and take a long time to heal.
One of the reasons I am excited about Laney’s story is not that Laney received an innovative treatment right up in our neck of the woods. And when I say woods, I mean it literally in this case.
Laney is a young Great Pyrenees and Border Collie mix. She is active, a canine equivalent of a speeding bullet. When Laney played, she played hard.
Close to her first birthday, while playing at the dog park, Laney took a bad tumble and left the park limping. Because the limp didn’t resolve after they came home, her mom took Laney to a veterinarian.
At the veterinarian
Their local veterinarian examined Laney and figured she suffered a minor injury that should resolve on its own. Laney’s mom felt that the injury was more serious than that and sought a second opinion at Espanola Animal Hospital.
While you could say it’s a hospital in a low-populated rural area, they have amazing surgeons and provide state-of-the-art care. I’ve been following them closely because I love the idea of having such advanced surgeons close to the middle of nowhere where we live.
With the use of advanced equipment, Laney was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear. Laney needed surgery. Current techniques, however, are tricky and highly invasive.
A different option
The team at the Espanola Animal Hospital, however, had been developing a new, innovative approach, using TightRope® fixation system.
You might have heard about TightRope for surgical repair of ruptured cruciate ligaments. Can the same idea help with the treatment of a shoulder injury? With enough ingenuity, you apparently can.
The surgeons figured out how to utilize a device that was developed for repair of a dislocated hip to fix Laney’s shoulder. The TightRope® fixation is a minimally invasive technique designed for ligament repair.
Put it all together and you have an elegant solution for a torn rotator cuff. It turns a daunting, lengthy surgery into a 15 minute operation.
Laney was out of the operating room in half an hour and walked out of the hospital the next morning.
She doesn’t favor the leg at all and you couldn’t tell she suffered a major injury. The only remaining challenge is to keep Laney from getting too active too soon so she can recover properly.
Shoulder Instability in Dogs