Hip dysplasia is a developmental disease in which the coxofemoral or hip joint fails to develop correctly creating a tendency towards the development of hip laxity early in life. 

Hip dysplasia is not congenital; affected dogs are born with morphologically normal hips, but more determined by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. The vast majority of affected dogs have dysplasia of both hips but one limb may be more predominant than the other.

The ligaments and joint capsule that normally stabilize the hip joint become loose within the first few weeks of life; the normally very stable hip joint becomes much less conforming. The destruction of articular cartilage causes erosion at the margins of the joint, the ball of the femoral head deforms as a result of bone remodelling; widening the joint’s load-bearing surface in an attempt to compensate and stabilise the joint. As a result, the socket becomes shallower; wearing down due to the widening joint.

As laxity increases, the ligaments of the joint, responsible for attaching the head of the femur to the acetabulum become stretched; leading to subluxation or partial dislocation of the hips. All dogs with hip dysplasia develop secondary osteoarthritis as the forces of friction and abnormally weighted loads are applied to their already weakened joints.

Hip dysplasia is the most common orthopaedic condition in dogs, most frequently affecting large rapidly growing dogs, although small dogs can also be affected, and the onset of clinical signs is variable; however lameness and a discernibly altered gait begin soon after birth. Diagnosis is mostly between 6 and 12 months of age; although cases of onset in later life where hip dysplasia develops due to osteoarthritis are not uncommon.

Clinical signs of hip dysplasia are variable but include stiffness, exercise intolerance, difficulty getting up or lying down, problems climbing stairs and gait abnormalities, including limping on one or both back legs. It is common for dogs not to overtly indicate signs of pain at home, although clinically affected dogs often demonstrate obvious pain when their hips are extended by a veterinary surgeon.

Lameness may be mild, moderate or severe and is usually worse after exercise; an affected dog may also develop a “bunny-hopping” gait, a reduced range of motion or stiffness of the joint or a grating sound; pain during full extension and bending of the joint may also be present. 

Pain can be generated initially by repetitive strain injuries to the lax hip stabilisers; the muscles responsible for holding everything in place while the dog’s body is moving to prevent injury and micro-fracturing of the bone and cartilage surfaces rubbing past one another. As the erosion of joint cartilage progresses, pain is the result of the joint disease osteoarthritis leading to further associated lameness.

The use of myotherapy to support HIP DYSPLASIA

Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on numerous factors, most importantly the severity of the clinical problem.

Galen Myotherapy© can provide rehabilitation following surgery and also plays an extremely valuable role in pre-surgical conditioning - preparing muscles prior to surgery as well as treating compensatory and loading issues the dog may have developed in response to the instability of their hip joint or joints.

 The ability of myotherapy to rebalance the dog’s muscular system makes it a highly effective treatment in the easing of compensatory issues; treatment should be viewed as part of a long term management plan, leading to an overall reduction in stiffness and inflammation around the hip joint, a strengthening of the stabilizing musculature of the joint and increased mobility leading to an improved gait.

To talk to me about Galen Myotherapy© and how it might help your dog, contact me here.