Conservative Treatment of Cranial Cruciate Ligament (“CCL”)

Until recently, surgical intervention was the gold standard due to lack of long-term studies citing outcomes of conservative management.  In January 2018, a study was presented at the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) citing that long-term outcomes of conservative management are as good, if not better, then surgical outcomes.  In our experience, dogs rehabilitated without surgery have great functional outcomes!


If you have a dog that has undergone surgery the role of rehabilitation can prove invaluable.  Studies indicate your pet’s muscles will begin to atrophy just a day or two after an injury or surgery. If rehab is not started immediately, there can be increased swelling (which delays the healing process), loss of muscle mass and strength, decreased stability in joints and decreased balance and proprioception. Your dog will compensate for the injured limb which typically causes additional muscle tightness, pain and dysfunction.  It also puts excess strain on the non-injured limbs and core muscles putting them at risk for injury.

The first few weeks after surgery rehabilitation goals consist of decreasing pain and swelling and facilitating healing without compromising the surgical repair. We will develop a well-rounded, personalized rehabilitation program for your dog to ensure that the affected limb recovers fully, and to protect the compensating limbs and muscles.

Nigel has done so well, that now he only wears the brace when he is in the yard….mom is afraid he might chase a critter:).

Nigel Before Therapy

Nigel After Therapy


Reese is a 7 -1/2 year old, Pitbull/Plotthound mix. He was diagnosed early May 2018 with a torn Cranial Cruciate Ligament (“CCL”). His parents decided to take the conservative approach first to see if he would benefit from therapy before thinking about a surgical procedure.

Since then, he has thrived doing Aqua Therapy, Massage Therapy, Therapeutic Exercises and Cold Laser Therapy.

Reese is doing so well that surgery is no longer necessary. He is finally becoming his old self again and enjoying play time at the dog park with his brother Winston and going on hikes with his parents. His parents have had total dedication to him through his recovery and it shows!


Tucker is a 12-year old English Springer Spaniel.  He tore his CCL during his favorite activity…running free in the fields and woods with his brother and sister.  Mom was devastated and struggled with what to do for Tucker.  She researched all the pros and cons of surgery vs. conservative treatment.  She wasn’t crazy about surgery but wanted to make the right decision for Tucker.  He was still relatively young and LOVED his walks.  Mom wanted him to be able to return to that.  Ultimately, she consulted an orthopedist who, to her surprise, recommended conservative treatment.  Take a look at the “before” and “after” videos below to see how well he is doing!

Tucker Before Treatment

Tucker Before Treatment

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