Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia is the result of the abnormal development of the bones in the elbow joint, the humerus joining with the ulna and radius. These abnormalities cause the elbow to not work as effectively as it should.

There are four developmental causes for elbow dysplasia in dogs.

• Osteochondrosis Dessicans (OCD) – Cartilage from the joint breaks off and grow abnormally causing irritation and inflammation
• Fragmented Medial Coronoid Process – A small part of the bone of the ulna breaks away irritating the cartilage which lines and cushions the humerus causing arthritic changes in the joint. These changes to the joint will result in pain and affect the dog’s range of movement
• Ununited Anconeal Process – The anconeal process (a bony area at the back of the joint and attached to the ulna) develops abnormally and does not fuse with the main body of the ulna, instead forming a separate bone referred to as an Ununited Anconeal Process. This will mean that the elbows natural range of motion is inhibited due to the abnormality
• Elbow Incongruency – this is where the epiphyseal growth plate of the radius forms irregularly; leaving the ulna and the radius open to rubbing against the adjoining bone, giving rise to the onset of progressive arthritis

Elbow dysplasia will result in pain for the affected dog and will generally be apparent within the first 12 months of the dog’s life. Some dogs will show no symptoms until old age due to the formation of osteoarthritis as a result of abnormal bone growth or the irregular grinding of bones. Normally both legs will be affected but this is not always the case.

It is most common in larger breeds such as the Newfoundland and German Shepard.

Symptoms include:

• Lameness
• Stiffness
• Abnormal elbow placement
• Swollen elbow joint
• Restricted range of movement
• Reluctance to jump down or go down stairs

Massage benefits include:

• Pain relief
• Reduces muscle tension
• Relieves muscle spasms
• Releases trigger points
• Promote natural range of movement
• Relieves muscle tightness from overcompensation
• Helps with pre and post-operative care
• Reduces inflammation
• Helps reduce spasms and trigger points especially in lower neck and behind shoulder