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Evaluation of application of a carpal brace as a treatment for carpal ligament instability in dogs: 14 cases (2008–2011)

Julia E. TomlinsonTwin Cities Animal Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Clinic, 12010 Riverwood Dr, Burnsville, MN 55337.

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Jane M. ManfrediDepartment of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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 DVM, MS

Abstract

Objective—To determine whether carpal brace application is a viable treatment for dogs with unilateral carpal ligament instability.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—14 client-owned athletic dogs.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed to identify dogs treated with a brace for unilateral carpal valgus or varus instability between August 2008 and August 2011. Treatment included passive motion and isometric strengthening exercises during brace application.

Results—Of the 14 dogs, 11 were considered to have returned to normal function; 11 of 12 dogs returned to agility competition. Carpal measurements before treatment indicated the affected limb had significantly greater valgus measurements (median, 30°; range, 30° to 35°), significantly greater varus measurements (median, 15°; range, 15° to 25°), and significantly less flexion (median, 37.5°; range, 30° to 45°), compared with results for the contralateral carpus. Long-term monitoring revealed no differences in measurements between affected and contralateral limbs. Valgus measurements of the affected carpus at brace removal (median, 15°; range, 15° to 20°) and at the end of long-term monitoring (median, 15°; range, 15° to 20°) were significantly lower than measurements before treatment (median, 30°; range, 30° to 35°). Dogs had significantly lower lameness scores (assessed on a scale of 0 to 5) at brace removal (median, 0; range, 0) and at the end of monitoring (median, 0; range, 0 to 2), compared with scores before treatment (median, 3; range, 1 to 3).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Application of a carpal brace resulted in improved stability and resolution or reduction in lameness in dogs with carpal ligament instability.

Abstract

Objective—To determine whether carpal brace application is a viable treatment for dogs with unilateral carpal ligament instability.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—14 client-owned athletic dogs.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed to identify dogs treated with a brace for unilateral carpal valgus or varus instability between August 2008 and August 2011. Treatment included passive motion and isometric strengthening exercises during brace application.

Results—Of the 14 dogs, 11 were considered to have returned to normal function; 11 of 12 dogs returned to agility competition. Carpal measurements before treatment indicated the affected limb had significantly greater valgus measurements (median, 30°; range, 30° to 35°), significantly greater varus measurements (median, 15°; range, 15° to 25°), and significantly less flexion (median, 37.5°; range, 30° to 45°), compared with results for the contralateral carpus. Long-term monitoring revealed no differences in measurements between affected and contralateral limbs. Valgus measurements of the affected carpus at brace removal (median, 15°; range, 15° to 20°) and at the end of long-term monitoring (median, 15°; range, 15° to 20°) were significantly lower than measurements before treatment (median, 30°; range, 30° to 35°). Dogs had significantly lower lameness scores (assessed on a scale of 0 to 5) at brace removal (median, 0; range, 0) and at the end of monitoring (median, 0; range, 0 to 2), compared with scores before treatment (median, 3; range, 1 to 3).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Application of a carpal brace resulted in improved stability and resolution or reduction in lameness in dogs with carpal ligament instability.

Contributor Notes

Presented as an abstract at the North American Veterinary Conference, Orlando, Fla, January 2013.

The authors thank Drs. Joe Hauptman and Bo Norby for statistical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Tomlinson (drjulia@tcrehab.com).