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Muscle Tear in Dogs



There is no documented evidence to support a single best way to treat acute muscle injuries, or to prevent fibrous contracture (shortening of muscular or connective tissue) and adhesions. It is generally believed that immediate post injury care should involve rest and local cold application followed within hours by heat and passive physical therapy. An essential part of muscle repair is effective tension relief for the injured muscle so that healing can occur without disruption as function returns. Analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs should be used for several days to weeks to control inflammation and pain. Light or non-weight bearing activity is appropriate for an extended period of time (4-6 weeks).


Internal or external orthopedic devices may be necessary to provide effective tension relief. Scar-related problems can affect your dog’s gait in the long-term. It is inappropriate to hospitalize or cage a recently injured animal for muscle problems unless surgical repair is planned. Surgery may be performed within a few days of the injury to repair obvious, acute muscle rupture that results in a separation of the uninjured muscle segments.


Once the muscle injury becomes chronic and is associated with contracture or adhesions, treatment is aimed at function salvage of the muscle. Instantaneous symptomatic relief often accompanies surgical release of the adhesions or fibrous tissue bands. The prevention of re-adhesion and progressive contracture is much less rewarding.


Specific muscle injuries have widely disparate prognoses. Rotator cuff contracture responds well to surgical excision of the tendon of insertion. Gracilis (hamstring) contracture has a 100 percent recurrence rate after surgical resection. Quadriceps contracture has a similarly dismal failure rate after surgery.


Muscle injuries that have healed in an elongated state have a better prognosis for surgical improvement of function than contracted muscles. The most common elongation injury affects the muscles of the Achilles group. Hock hyperflexion can be surgically reconstructed to return affected dogs to relatively normal function. Shortening the Achilles tendon rather than surgically repairing the injured muscle usually accomplishes this.


Living and Management


Your veterinarian will want to monitor repetitive range of motion, along with taking steps to control inflammation. Non-weight bearing passive physical therapy may be beneficial for recovery.



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