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Medial patellar luxation knee problems can lead to dog arthritis by Chris Durin

Medial patellar luxation knee problems can lead to dog arthritis

by Chris Durin

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Yes! Joint pain and arthritis of the dog knee can start from problems with the knee cap or patella, in a condition that is known as medial patellar luxation. Often seen in smaller dogs, medial patellar luxation requires early detection and prompt attention to prevent:

  • immobility of the joint,
  • severe pain,
  • further damage to the cruciate ligament (dog acl)
  • reduced quality of life.

Understanding the Patella

The patella or kneecap is covered by cartilage that helps it glide smoothly and painlessly along a track (the trochlear groove) on the knee. When the kneecap shifts out of its normal position, it can rub against the cartilage of the trochlear groove, causing pain in the area. This condition is what is known as medial patellar luxation, which is common in dogs of smaller breeds like the miniature Poodle, Yorkshire terrier, Pomeranian, Chihuahua and Pekingese.
When medial patellar luxation occurs early in a dog’s life, the muscles supporting the thighs respond by pulling toward the inside portion of the leg, which movement places additional pressure to the knee joint cartilage, and causes a bowlegged appearance.

Causes of medial patellar luxation

Dogs are born with medial patellar luxation (MPL) and it all starts with a change in the angle of the hip, which triggers problems in the alignment of the joints below it, most notably the knees. This in turn leads to:

  • Weakness or stretching of the joint capsule around the knee
  • Shallow trochlear groove: The track (trochlear groove) on which the kneecap or patella moves must be deep enough to accommodate and cradle it as it glides up and down this groove. In dogs with MPL this trochlear groove fails to form and causes the patella to pop out.
  • Position of the kneecap’s lower attachment: In dogs with MPL the lower attachment of the kneecap sits far on the inner side of the shinbone or tibia. This position causes luxations as the dog walks or runs.


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  • Published: September 2010
  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: M037014