Elbow dysplasia is the most common cause of front leg limping in dogs. Dysplasia is a term which simply means the joint did not form completely normally during growth. As a result, many dogs develop limping at a young age and arthritis gradually progresses throughout their life.
Elbow dysplasia is an umbrella term that encompasses multiple conditions including: fragmented medial coronoid process, osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD), joint incongruity, and ununited anconeal process (UAP).
The most common form of elbow dysplasia involves a fragmented medial coronoid process (FMCP or FCP). The condition results in a small piece of bone (coronoid) becoming displaced, causing damage to the neighboring cartilage, arthritis, pain, and limping. Depending on the degree of clinical signs, some patients can be managed non-surgically which consists of activity modification and intermittent pain medications. Many dogs are candidates for surgery which involves removing the abnormal piece of bone. This helps to remove the source of discomfort and reduces ongoing damage to the cartilage. Arthroscopic treatment of medial coronoid disease has become the preferred surgical technique. This is a minimally invasive procedure where a small camera and instruments are used to evaluate the joint and remove the abnormal piece of bone (FMCP). Compared to an arthrotomy (opening the joint for visual inspection), arthroscopy improves visualization, decreases the incision size, reduces surgical trauma, minimizes postoperative discomfort, and accelerates postoperative recovery.
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