What is Joint Dislocation?
Joints are held together with tendons and ligaments. When these are also damaged, the dislocation is referred to as luxation. Subluxation refers to dislocation with no damage to these surrounding parts. Hip dislocation, from hip dysplasia or from injury, along with a luxating patella (sliding knee cap) are among the most common dislocations seen in cats. Elbow luxation and tail dislocation are also seen on a lesser scale. Joint dislocations are paired most commonly with other serious injuries from trauma. It is imperative to get your cat immediate veterinary care in situations of trauma, as the injuries can be life threatening.
A joint is the point at which two or more bones meet, often allowing movement of body parts. The three types of joints, fibrous, cartilaginous and synovial pivot joints, can become pulled apart or moved out of alignment, causing dislocation. Joints that allow movement are at a greater risk than ones that do not. The joints that allow movement are categorized as hinge, saddle and ball, and socket joints.
Symptoms of Joint Dislocation in Cats
Often the first symptom of trauma is your cat's disappearance for a long period of time, even lasting days, in some cases. A serious injury usually makes it difficult for the cat to return home. Inspect your cat upon its return for any possible injuries. Other symptoms to watch for are:
- Holding limb up while walking
- Limited or abnormal movement
- Decrease in muscle around affected joint
- Bent limb
- Deformed joint
- No toe sensation
Causes of Joint Dislocation in Cats
By far, the most common cause of joint dislocation in cats is injury. Small children should be encouraged to be gentle with cats, as rough play often results in dislocation and other injuries to the cat.
Known causes include:
- Falling from a great height
- Being hit by an automobile
- Being stepped on by a human
- Tail or limb being pulled by a human
- Fighting with another animal
- Having a body part shut in a door (often the tail)
- Congenital disorder (such as hip dysplasia)
Diagnosis of Joint Dislocation in Cats
Upon arrival to a veterinary clinic or animal hospital, the vet will complete a careful physical exam, evaluating the extent of the injury. They may note a grinding of the dislocated joint. X-rays will be needed to ensure that no other life-threatening trauma to the body is present, especially in the case of an altercation with a vehicle.
A complete blood profile, biochemical profile, and urinalysis will be taken to assess the cat's overall condition. If surgery will be needed, X-rays of the chest will be required before anesthetic can be administered to ensure the cat will respond appropriately.
Treatment of Joint Dislocation in Cats
The treatment for joint dislocation depends very much on the location and severity of the dislocation itself. There are surgical and nonsurgical options available, mostly contingent on the amount of time that has passed since the joint was moved out of place.
If the dislocation has happened within three days of the veterinary visit and the severity is not too extreme, the vet may be able to use physical force to put the joint back into place. The cat will be under general anesthetic for the process as it is quite painful. An X-ray will be performed after the manipulation to verify that alignment has been corrected. Only a professional should attempt this procedure. The cat may be bandaged or otherwise immobilized while the joint heals, lasting anywhere from four to fourteen days. Cage rest may be required if the dislocation was in the hip joint.
For severe dislocations, dysplasia, or dislocations where much time has passed, extensive surgery may be needed. This often includes the implantation of steel pins and screws, some which need surgical removal after the healing process. Fluoroscopy may be used to reduce incision size, but some cases require very large incisions. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often prescribed after surgery to reduce inflammation. Antibiotics may also be prescribed for two to four weeks post surgery to stave off infection.
In both surgical and nonsurgical treatments of joint dislocation, painkillers are often prescribed to help the cat get through the first few painful days of healing. It is not recommended for painkillers to be prescribed for a long period of time in the occurrence of joint dislocation.
Recovery of Joint Dislocation in Cats
At-home care will continue for as long as the cat is healing, which can range from three weeks to two months. If bandages have been applied, inspect them daily to ensure they are clean and dry. A comfortable, soft bed should be supplied to prevent the cat from developing bed sores. If the jaw was dislocated, soft foods will be needed throughout the healing process. The cat will need to be kept indoors, and possibly confined to a cage to limit movement while the joint heals. Play is discouraged throughout this time. Physiotherapy may be recommended to assist in strengthening the joint and surrounding muscles.
If the treatment has been performed properly and the post treatment care has been closely followed, the cat will not likely dislocate the joint again. If proper care has not been given,the joint will continue to weaken with each dislocation. Obese cats who have suffered from joint dislocation should lose weight to take stress off of the affected joint. In many cases, no more treatment is needed after the healing process finishes. Monitor your cat’s joint in the years to come to watch for signs of injury-related arthritis development.
Joint Dislocation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
my vet told me that my cat has a hip dislocated he wants to cut his hip ball joint out and try to put it back in it was only two days after it happened why would they do that . why wouldnt they try to put it back in
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