Achilles Tendon Ruptures and Bracing in Dogs
Achilles tendon ruptures are most commonly caused by lacerations, blunt force trauma, or overstretching of the area. Ruptures of the tendon can also be chronic and degenerative in nature. Achilles injuries can be seen in any breed of dog although Labrador Retrievers and Doberman Pinschers are most common1. The Achilles tendon, also known as the common calcaneal tendon, is really three different tendons which include the superficial digital flexor tendon, gastrocnemius tendon, and the common tendon of the biceps femoris, gracillis, and semitendinosus muscles2.
Achilles injuries can present themselves in different ways. Some dogs will show lameness on the injured limb side which may be coupled with swelling around the affected area. Dogs with complete ruptures will walk flat-footed while the paw may be curled downward. Partial ruptures may present with a somewhat flexed leg. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the injury and may include surgery, bracing, and newer modalities such as stem cell treatment2.
How Does it Work?
The Achilles tendon complex is a main stabilizer of the lower hindlimb. A partial or full tear of this tendon will diminish the effect of the stabilizing muscles that feed into it, leading to the full or partial collapse of the limb. The PawOpedic Custom Hock Orthosis can help restore stability for some untreated ruptures and can also be used postsurgically as a protective measure.
Figure 1. Comparison of normal Achilles tendon, partially torn, fully torn, and braced.
2 Evans HE, de Lahunta A. The skeletal and muscular systems. Miller's Guide to the Dissection of the Dog. Fourth ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1996;6-118.