Does CCL Repair Surgery Lessen Arthritis Risk?

Many veterinarians will try to pressure owners into immediately proceeding with surgical intervention to repair a dog’s damaged cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) by saying early intervention will decrease the likelihood of arthritic changes to the knee. There is some truth to this – restriction of the knee joint after injury does help to minimize the progression of arthritic tissue in a dog with a CCL injury, but the necessary amount of restriction can be reached with conservative techniques as well as surgery. Restricting your dog’s activity following a cruciate ligament injury is your best defense against arthritis, and no owner should ever be made to feel as though surgery is their only option.

The truth is, all dogs that sustain a cruciate ligament tear or rupture are at an increased risk for arthritis, no matter at what point surgery (if ever) is undertaken. There is no evidence that dogs who recover using Conservative Management (CM), and dogs who recover with surgery show any differences in the development of future arthritic problems. Proper restriction during recovery and avoiding high-risk activities after recovery, together with weight control, good nutrition, and joint-supporting supplements are what minimize the chances of future arthritic problems – not immediate surgical intervention.

11 thoughts on “Does CCL Repair Surgery Lessen Arthritis Risk?

  1. I have a 3 yr old male Border Collie mix. He has many joint problems,but now has CCL and we just need help with the cost of any surgery that he might need. Can any out there give me some good places to start. Would a vet school be an alternative? Any info would help a lot.

    Thank You

  2. My dog, 107lbs 4 year old Lab, bitbull mix bread was very recently kicked by a cow. After bring him to a vet. asap, being on antibiotics and painkillers for a week, the all the swelling went away and he doesn’t seem to be in pain but he isn’t putting all is weight on the leg. We went back after one week for exrays and were told he has CCL. They stress the need to for surgery. Are there any other options, should I wait to see if he gets better on his own after bed rest for another week or so? Will it get worse if I wait?
    Thank you very much for your help.

  3. I am really lucky. Two years ago, my Marvin’s(he’s 67 lbs) left CCL ruptured and the doctor took and wait and see approach. Marvin goes to one of the best clinics in Dallas. They are extremely progressive. Marvin’s leg healed great. It was not a complete tear, but a very large one. Now, his right CCL has torn and we are going to restrict his movement, give him anti-inflammatories and supplements, and put him on a diet. He doesn’t have arthritis in his left leg, so the wait and see approach did work for us.

  4. Okay…good news. Marvin just went in for a four week check up and his knee has totally healed. No swelling or pain. We kept him tied to the coffee table for six weeks and put him on a diet. He has lost four pounds in four weeks. He took anti-inflammatories and he is really, really good. I told my doc about how I read that surgery is almost always required and she said the big variable is the owner. That almost 99% of owners will not tie up their dog the way I did for such a long time. I really did not let him go off leash at all. It was just go to the bathroom and them sit by the coffee table for six weeks. I know it sounds severe, but the evidence doesn’t really lie. Coming back from one cruciate injury is amazing. The second time? Wow. Marvin is severely overweight for his frame. He does fall into the big dog category at 64 lbs. (was 67), so just know that dogs can come back from these injuries, but you as the owner must make the commitment. I would say at least six weeks of complete rest to cure a hurt knee. Good luck everyone and thanks to the site creators for bringing us a venue where we can discuss a common, expensive, and sometimes heartbreaking issue.

  5. Hi All,

    NOt sure if this is the right place…but asking for second opinion.
    My Son’s dog “Sparky” is only 2yrs old…a mix chihuahua and lab. He is getting the CCL problem in which the vet says needs surgery…otherwise becomes an arthritis problem in future…it’s $1650 for the surgery…does that sound outragoues…? My wife wants to go with it…but I wanted her to wait and get a couple more quotes..just wanted to know if it’s a good idea or any help if possible.

    thank you

  6. Hi Peter, we have a yorkie who also had the cruciate rupture in July 2009 and we decided to go with conservative management. We took him to the vet initially and he recommended surgery. The vet mentioned exactly the same thing that our dog may get arthritis in the future. I did a lot of research in the internet and some sites mentioned that conservative management (no surgery) tend to work best for small dogs. We just couldn’t bear to see him go through his third surgery as he had some bladder stones surgically removed for 2 times. Anyhow, it is now 4 months since his injury and he’s doing great eventhough we still have to restrict him from too much exercise (short walks), jumping, running and going up/down stairs. He has been using his injured leg more but I can see that he’s still putting more weight on his good hind leg. What I can suggest is wait about 2 months to see if your dog is improving. Don’t forget to give him joint supplement (glucosamine) and some anti inflammatory medicine if he is in pain. It’s extremely important to restrict him from too much activities as he may injure his other leg. I hope this helps.

  7. Need help,
    Was just told my 7 year old German Shepard mix needs TPLO surgery. We have been restricting her for the past couple weeks but she is still holding/favoring her left hind leg. We have a appointment for surgery consultant Monday. I want the best for her but the surgery cost is estimated at 2,800.00. I have been researching and find that there is a high probability within a year she will need the other leg done. I have been crying and losing sleep over the right choice..she has been a great companion but what is the best for her and us. I am open to any suggestion.

  8. Sounds like RA. You should see a rheumatologist. You may need an anti-inflammatory to help with the inflimmation. Once you see a doctor….a good one, he can put you on a series of medication to help. however, you may need a cortisone shot. but ask your doctor

  9. My dog, Gracie, 2 year old lab, had a complete CCL tear and had the TPLO surgery 15 weeks ago, started limping on her other leg at about 13 weeks but had to wait for appointment. While the surgical leg is fully healed the other leg now has a slight tear and will likely require surgery. Just FYI, the first surgery was about 4k and therapy xrays was another $2500. We tried anti-inflammatorys plus rest for the first tear, a good couple months, seemed to be no problem until she returned to full activity (10 pounds heavier) and the full tear happened immediately. Wish my experience was better but not confident at all that the tear will heal in any situation, surgery seems to be the only option.

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