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What is Carpal Hyperextension?

Carpal hyperextension in cats is a condition in which the carpus, or wrist, in one of your cat’s limbs becomes over, or hyper, extended. When this extreme flexion occurs, the supporting ligaments in the carpus can become strained or torn, causing injury. When the ligament is weakened the joint is no longer able to maintain proper position, causing a lack of ability to support weight on the affected limb.

Carpal Hyperextension Average Cost

From 402 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Carpal Hyperextension in Cats

Signs of carpal hyperextension in your cat will all include lameness and an inability or unwillingness to bear weight on the affected limb. The full list of symptoms to watch for include:

  • Limping or inability to bear weight on limb
  • Unwillingness to jump or climb
  • Swelling of carpal joint
  • Characteristic heel touching ground stance
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Causes of Carpal Hyperextension in Cats

Carpal hyperextension in cats is typically the result of an injury to the affected joint. The injury may be sudden and the result of a trauma such as a car accident or other major impact or after landing from a jump from an extended height, or it may be due to repetitive use of the joint causing minor ligament damage over time that has a cumulative effect. Cats with diabetes may be more prone to carpal hyperextension. This is due to the disease’s effects on many bodily tissues, including weakening of ligaments.

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Diagnosis of Carpal Hyperextension in Cats

Diagnosis of carpal hyperextension in your cat will begin with a thorough physical exam by your veterinarian. You should provide your vet with a complete medical and symptomatic history of your cat. If the injury has been recurring or has improved and regressed over time, this may help your vet rule out other structures in the limb causing the injury.

Your veterinarian will closely observe your cat’s stance and the way they are holding the injured leg. The classic characteristic stance for a cat with a carpal hyperextension injury involves the wrist being fully extended and touching the ground in an unnatural 45 degree position. To the pet owner, this can appear as if your cat’s wrist has collapsed and they are now walking on their lower leg instead of their paw.

The definitive test for carpal hyperextension includes specialized x-rays known as stress radiographs. In this procedure, stress is applied to the joint at multiple locations in order to help identify which portion of the ligament and which specific wrist joint has become injured. In order to provide the best images, your cat will need to remain calm and still for the x-ray. Some cats will need to be given a mild sedative or anesthesia in order to obtain clear and accurate images.

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Treatment of Carpal Hyperextension in Cats

Unlike many other tissues in your cat’s body, ligaments are unlikely to heal or regrow. In mild cases of carpal hyperextension, your vet may recommend a wait-and-see approach to allow time for scar tissue to form in the damaged ligament. The scar tissue will sometimes act as a stabilizer for the damaged ligament. Additionally, these types of injuries typically occur as a result of a large amount of jumping or other movements that put a significant amount of pressure on the carpal joint of your cat. In order to have any chance of healing or scar tissue stabilization, your cat’s activity will need to be severely limited.

Given the difficulty in a conservative approach, the preferred method of treatment of carpal hyperextension is surgery to fuse the affected joint. Fusing the joint removes the ability of the carpus to flex and bend, creating a stability that is missing once the ligaments have become damaged. For this surgery, your cat will need to undergo anesthesia. Before being put under anesthesia your veterinarian will run a full blood panel to confirm there are no underlying medical conditions that may make the surgery more risky. While there are a few common complications, such as infection or failure of the bones to fuse properly, overall surgery to fuse a joint affected by carpal hyperextension is an effective treatment option.

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Recovery of Carpal Hyperextension in Cats

For cats that undergo successful surgery for fusing an affected joint, prognosis for full recovery is very good. You will need to carefully follow your veterinarian’s postoperative instructions, including keeping your cat in a calm, quiet place where their motion is limited while they heal from surgery. You will also need to administer all prescribed medicines to avoid any postoperative infections.

Long term, fusion of the joint will have some minor impact on your cat’s mobility. Due to lack of flexion, your cat may be unable to jump as high or as far as it used to. Cats that have had this surgery should be kept indoors and not exposed to outdoors obstacles and dangers.

With proper post-operative care and long term follow up and care, your cat will have a good quality of life after a carpal hyperextension injury and should make a good recovery.

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Carpal Hyperextension Average Cost

From 402 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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Carpal Hyperextension Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Fella

dog-breed-icon

Manx

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Not Jumping
Hip
Hyperextension
Waddling
Cautious

I rescued a 7y/o Male cat 4 days ago. He is SO sweet, but he walks very unnatural. His back legs make him waddle a lot, looks as if he isn’t stable. His front paws are both hyperextended causing him to walk on his lower leg instead of his paws. He walks slow and cautious. He doesn’t jump, EVER. When we set him on the couch the first day we got him he jumped off (very hesitant to) and when he landed his front leg inverted and he laid for a second and cried. I rubbed his leg and he didn’t wince. I also notice his front paws shake, all of the time. Day to day he doesn’t seem to be in pain, but I’m worried he is.

Sept. 4, 2018

Fella's Owner

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Louie

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Domestic long hair

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

My 6 year-old cat recently ran and pounced full-force into our sliding glass door because there was a neighbor kitty outside of our door. He started limping immediately and we took him to the ER but was bearing weight on it by the end of the visit, and wasn’t behaving well-enough to get X-rays taken. I didn’t want to frustrate him even further so we took him home and have tried the “wait and see” approach for the past 10 days. He’s been kept in an over-sized dog crate with a litter box, food/water, etc. I let him out once a day to see how him limp is doing but for the past 4-5 days there’s been no improvement and his right front leg is bending further than I’d like it to at the wrist. The ER did issue us Gabapentin if we needed to bring him back in mildly sedated to get the X-rays we need. My question is 1, will that be strong enough for X-rays for a cat that is calm but doesn’t like to be handled by a stranger? And 2, has the 10 days been too long or long enough? I lost a cat once during surgery because of an “irregular heart” that went unnoticed so surgery for me just seems like a horrific choice, but I will do whatever I need to to get Louie back to “normal”. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Aug. 17, 2018

Louie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Ten days isn’t too long, a wait and see approach is commonly taken by pet owners to see if there is improvement with rest (rest is best in many cases), continue with the rest as you’ve been doing to prevent any further injury and to give time for improvement. Gabapentin isn’t a true sedative, but it causes cats to be slow with their reactions and makes them more compliant for examination by a Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099247

Aug. 17, 2018

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Zara

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stray

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Bending Of Leg Structure.

Hi There, I am looking for more information about carpal injury/hyperextension. My cay has recently been limping on her left front paw (looking at her) and I can see its now bending out away from her body. She is also not using it when lying herself down. She will change the weight to the other before lowering herself to the ground. I give her anti-inflammatory oral solution when the limping gets bad. Is there anything else I can do, she is 13 years. I am just worried about her pain levels and also her making it worse as she is a out door cat and I dont believe that will ever change.

July 28, 2018

Zara's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to confirm whether this is a case of carpal hyperextension and to prescribe pain relief or other treatment; rest is best in these situations but you should still check in with your Veterinarian in case bracing or anything else may be effective (don’t try bracing at home). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/carpus-hyperextension

July 29, 2018

Thank you. I will reach out to my vet soon.

Aug. 2, 2018

Zara's Owner

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Serendipity

dog-breed-icon

mixed

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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Fair severity

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3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Walks Evenly On Both Front Wrists

14 yr old cat walks on both wrists so there’s no limp Just has an odd gate. Has done this forever. Noticed by an ER vet @ Angel Memorial. She’s a bit overweight but not very big. All blood work is normal. No apparant accute injury. doesn’t seem to be in pain. Is there anything we should follow up on?

July 24, 2018

Serendipity's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

In cases of carpal hyperextension we generally look at splinting the legs in an attempt to correct the condition, however in a cat Serendipity’s age and not showing any signs of pain you should really discuss this your Veterinarian to determine whether any treatment or management should be done. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 24, 2018

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Bunny

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Stray cat

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lumping

My cat has carpal fracture in her front right leg. She is 3 4 month old hardly. She is stray cat and often visit our home. Can we cure this without surgery? Can you please assist us.

July 14, 2018

Bunny's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

Whether Bunny can recover from a carpal fracture depends on the number of bones broken, the location of the break, and her activity level. Without seeing her or having x-rays to know that information, it isn't possible for me to say whether it will heal or not, unfortunately. It would be best to have her examined by a veterinarian, as they can look at her and give you a better idea as to healing potential.

July 14, 2018

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Radar

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

13 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Favouring Paw,Irregularly
Favouring Paw,I

My cats front paw is bending higher in one than the other. He is favouring it and it is swollen. Although he doesn't seem to be in alot of pain,he has discomfort. I believe that this is carpal hypertension. Is it essential that he needs a vet and or surgery?

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Chester

dog-breed-icon

Bombay

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Carpal Hyperflexion
Carpal Hyperflexion, Favoring Paw

I have a 2 yr old very active polydactyl Bombay. Ever since his declaw as a kitten he has favored one paw. He runs jumps and plays like the crazy cat he is but when he sits he holds up that paw. I’m noticing now that his wrist is collapsing and I’m concerned as it’s gotten worse since I got shelves so he has he jumping more. More like flying. Sometimes falls off because he’s in such a hurry to get there before my other cat. Haha. Recommendations? He doesn’t complain but doesn’t like that paw touched. Never has.

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Izzy

dog-breed-icon

Tortoise

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

My 12 year old cat izzy has been diagnosed with this condition. The vet gave me loxicam for her. She's been on this now for 2 weeks. Before this time she could weight bear just about on her left leg but now she won't put it down to walk and just hops. My vet said surgery isn't an option so whaet else can I do for her? The only thing that has improved is she's now eating alot of food whereas before the medication she was just licking her food and not eating it.

dog-name-icon

Diesel

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Walking On Front Wrists
Favoring One Paw

My cat is only eight months old. I got him as a very young kitten from my aunts farm. About three months ago I noticed him limping and walking on his wrists. After months and multiple vet visits with three different vets and a round of xrays that turned up nothing, I have gotten no where with a diagnosis, everyone thought it was in relation to his declaw. A few days ago I brought him to a family friend who is a vet that recently moved back to the area, who said it looked like it had to do with his ligaments and tendons, that it looked like carpal hypertension, unfortunately my cat is extremely finicky and needs to be sedated in order for anyone to get a really good look at his paws. I don’t know what to do any more, should I make another vet appointment?

Carpal Hyperextension Average Cost

From 402 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,000