The shoulder joint is a unique joint that lacks collateral ligaments, relying instead on the “rotator cuff” muscles for stability. However, shoulder luxation, or dislocation, can occur due to congenital or acquired factors. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for shoulder luxation in dogs and cats.
Understanding Shoulder Luxation
Shoulder luxation refers to the displacement of the humeral head in relation to the glenoid cavity. It can occur in various directions, with medial luxation being the most common. Interestingly, traumatic luxation is uncommon but tends to present as medial luxation in both dogs and cats. On the other hand, large breed dogs commonly experience lateral shoulder luxation following traumatic incidents.
Significantly, the shoulder blade can also luxate from the body wall due to severe trauma.
Recognizing the Signs
Clinical signs of shoulder luxation are similar regardless of the cause. Limping, varying degrees of pain, and discomfort are typically observed. Palpable anatomical distortions and noticeable soft tissue swelling may also be present in traumatic cases. When the shoulder blade luxates from the body wall, it becomes overly pronounced above the back.
Diagnosing Shoulder Luxation
To confirm a diagnosis of shoulder luxation, veterinary professionals employ physical examination, patient history, and radiographic views of both limbs. Manipulation under sedation or anesthesia is also valuable for assessing the shoulder’s anatomy.
Treating Shoulder Luxation
Treatment for shoulder luxation depends on the type and stability of the luxation. In cases of traumatic medial shoulder luxation, conservative treatment involving manual reduction under sedation or anesthesia is often successful. Following reduction, a Velpeau sling is used for a minimum of two weeks, followed by a gradual return to normal activity over a four-week period.
If the shoulder joint remains relatively stable after a prompt reduction, lateral luxation can also be managed conservatively. However, instead of a Velpeau sling, a neutral sling is used to bring the shoulder closer to the body.
Cranial or caudal luxations, although rare, can also be managed conservatively if detected early. The recovery process and return to function are similar to cases of medial or lateral luxations.
If closed reduction is not possible or if the joint remains grossly unstable despite reduction, surgical reconstruction of the glenohumeral ligament(s) and joint capsule is recommended. Various techniques may be employed, including the transposition of tendons or suture augmentation for stability. In severe cases, bone plating and screws may be necessary, and more advanced procedures such as joint fusion or removal of the articulating surfaces of the shoulder joint may be considered.
When the shoulder blade luxates from the body wall, repairs to the supporting muscle structures are required. Additionally, the scapula (shoulder blade) may need to be attached to the body wall, typically the rib cage.
The long-term prognosis for traumatic shoulder luxation is generally good if prompt treatment is provided, without the need for salvage procedures. Animals that undergo joint salvage may experience longer recovery periods, limited range of motion, and altered gaits. However, with proper care, satisfactory function can be achieved.
For expert advice and professional care regarding shoulder luxation in your furry friend, consider reaching out to Katten TrimSalon – your trusted companion in pet health.
Remember, early detection and timely treatment are key to ensuring your pet’s well-being and a smoother road to recovery.