Cruciate Physical Therapy

Cranial cruciate ligament stabilization: Instructions for postoperative care

  1. Hot pack the knee for 10 minutes prior to therapy. Circulating warm water heating blankets, or towels moistened with warm water (so they are comfortable to your touch) may be used. Do not use electric heating pads. Local application of heat increases blood flow to the area, decreases pain and muscle spasms, and causes general relaxation. Heat should not be applied if swelling is present
  2. Massage is an excellent way to increase blood flow to muscles to help warm-up the area before activity and to decrease stiffness after activity. Gentle massage should be pain free, relax soft tissues, decrease muscle spasm, increase muscle flexibility, and reduce swelling.
  3. Range of motion exercises must be performed properly to be effective. Under no circumstances should the animal experience undue pain or discomfort. Each joint in the affected limb should be placed through its comfortable range of motion. To achieve this, the joints should be slowly flexed to the point where the animal first begins to experience mild discomfort. This position should be held for a 10 count to allow stretching of tissues. Following flexion, the joint should be slowly extended to the point where the animal first begins to experience mild discomfort. This position should be held for a 10 count. This process should be repeated 15 to 20 times, two to six times daily. The goal of range of motion exercises should be to stretch rather than tear soft tissues.
  4. Icing down the knee should be done following a physical therapy session. A good ice pack that can be molded to the knee can be made from 2/3 water and 1/3 isopropyl alcohol in a zip lock bag. Frozen vegetables can also be used.