Beginning Conservative Management – Jackson

conservative management

I joined this community because my 3-year-old Lab, Jackson, was just diagnosed with a partial cruciate ligament tear. The vet receommended surgery, and said it didn’t need to be done right away, but eventually it would. After going home upset at the though of putting my poor baby under the knife, I began researching other options. Conservative management was something I had never heard of, but it seems like the right choice for us at this point. 

Jackson is not in pain, he can bear weight and he’s just a crazy 3 year old. The only time he limps is after a big run…which has been extremely limited. We have restricted his exercise to just walks–no off leash play/running. I massage his leg in the evenings and he will be starting hydrotherapy and laser treatments in the next week or so. I will be adding omega 3 supplements to his diet. Treatment isn’t cheap, but a lot less than the quoted surgery. I will keep everyone posted with our progress and hope this heals….thanks for reading!

UPDATE – 6/8: 


We completed 5 weeks (11 treatments) of water therapy and laser. I was giving Jackson two Glycoflex tabs a day for 6 weeks, and have moved him to 1 per day for maintenance. I also put him on Yucca Intensive drops as an anti-inflammatory. He’s doing great! He has a small run in the morning and has not limped for a few weeks, no lameness, and can bare complete weight on his leg. We are gradually increasing his running time, but still taking it easy to avoid having any setbacks.

We did a run on the trails a few weeks ago and he over did it, as he was limping for the remainder of the day…the next day he was fine. I’ve thrown the ball for him in the yard, and again, no pain, no limping.

I am happy I chose the conservative management approach instead of surgery, as it can be the solution for most (not all) cases. We were lucky as this was just a partial tear, otherwise with a full tear, I would have probably done the surgery.

7 thoughts on “Beginning Conservative Management – Jackson

  1. Thanks for posting about Jackson. I wish you the best of luck. I have recently started CM with my 12.5 yr Australian Kelpie, Seeker. He was diagnosed with a ruptured left cruciate and partial tear in the right. I scheduled surgery for March 24 and then had a panic attack and couldn’t do it. He was never 3 legged lame or in distress. I put him on a leash for short walks daily and got a rehab vet to come to the house. Now he is up to 1.2 miles of walking a day and lots of rehab exercises. I rented a laser for a month and he gets that daily on his knees and back. If you met him out leash walking you’d never know he had such problems. If you haven’t already watch the new video on this page, it really brings home the journey. – Dr. James also offers a rehab guide that is WONDERFUL!

  2. My boy partially tore his ccl 10 months ago when he was 2. I took him to multiple vets and a specialist who all recommended TPLO surgery. Like you, I couldn’t imagine my baby having a surgery like that, especially when he was still weight bearing. A vet tech friend of mine looked at my baby’s x-rays and told me to try therapy instead. We’ve been going to therapy now for about a month, doing cold laser and acupuncture. He just had his first water treadmill on Friday and he’s doing so much better! The plan now is to continue the laser and water treadmill for a few more months. He also takes Cosequin everyday.
    Good luck to you and your baby!

    1. Curious to see how he’s now? I just came from the vet and my 10 month old lab has a partially torn ccl. The vet won’t do surgery because she’s still so young so I’m looking for alternatives.

  3. My 9 yo old Kaylie- samoyed/ australian shepard became critically ill last June and was dx with systemic lupus- found a superb internal medicine specialist and kaylie has been in remission for many months–5 weeks ago she slid off the bed and ruptured her left hind ccl-she is not a surgical candidate presently as she is still tapering off prednisone,so also have been treating conservatively with a custom fitted knee brace from animal ortho care in Virginia, restricted activity , weight loss,am tramadol, and glucosamine/chondroitin. She is doing pretty well and putting weght on her leg even with out the brace now and seems happy and pretty comfortable–am going to continue with this path and am strongly leaning against surgery with her compromised immnune system-fingers crossed!

  4. Curious to see how Jackson is doing now? I just came from the vet and my 10 month old lab has a partially torn ccl. The vet won’t do surgery because she’s still so young so I’m looking for alternatives. I’m not completely ruling out surgery for the future if it ends up being the best option, she’s an extremely active dog, loves to run and go for rides so she jumps up in the seat of the truck, I hate to see her quality of life limited.

    1. My 4 yr old black lab has a partial knee tear. They wanted to do surgery. I gave him 8 weeks of limited activity. No bed or couch jumping and only out for his business. Also gave him Recovery SE and he had 6 rounds of laser therapy. 10 months later, not even a limp. He runs and plays and jumps without any issues. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the vet!

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