Luxating Patella occurs when the Patella slips out of the trochlea groove – the dip at the front of the femur where it normally sits.
There are 4 grades of luxating patella –
- Slips out but quickly returns to normal position
- Luxates when the stifle (knee) flexes and returns to normal when it extends
- The Patella needs to be replaced manually and will quickly luxate again
- Permanent luxation
Although it can affect any breed of dog, it is more common in small dogs, affecting many of the toy breeds and terriers. Symptoms include a ‘hop, hop, skip’ gait, yelping on extension of the affected hind limb, and lack of normal movement through the stifle.
This condition may need surgery, particularly for the higher grades. However massage can help to reduce areas of overcompensation, address areas of protective muscle splinting, and improve gait and mobility. By manipulating the quadriceps, the patella can be helped to sit more comfortably in its groove, reducing the occurrence of luxation.