Elbow Dysplasia


What Is It?

Elbow Dysplasia (ED) in dogs occurs when the articulation between the 3 bones that form the elbow (humerus, radius and ulna) do not articulate correctly and develop abnormally. There are 4 classifications of elbow dysplasia, although some sources consider arthritis to be a 5th. Commonly the disorder will be classified as one of the following.

  • Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP) – The most common form of ED, a small piece of bone becomes fragmented which irritates the joint and destroys the cartilage which may lead to early onset of arthritis
  • Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP) – a fragment of bone develops separately from the growth centre and has failed to unite with the ulna during growth
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) A piece of cartilage from the condyle of the humerus develops abnormally and becomes partially or fully detached from the bone’s surface resulting in inflammation and pain.
  • Medial Compartment Disease (MSC) also referred to as Elbow Incongruity. A misarticulation of the bones leads to the cartilage wearing more rapidly, the underlying bone becomes exposed and the area becomes painful and inflamed.

Why Does It Happen?

  • Breed predisposition
  • Allowing puppies repetitive access up and down stairs
  • Over exercise
  • Jumping them too early as puppies e.g. in agility
  • Obesity as a puppy
  • Injury or trauma to the joint when the dog is still young

  • Foreleg lameness
  • Abduction of the elbow (out at the elbows)
  • Standing ‘bow legged’
  • Stiffness
  • Flopping to the floor rather than a controlled down
  • Reluctant to exercise
  • Joint thickening/swelling
  • Difficulty in navigating stairs
  • Reluctant to jump out of car
  • Reduced range of motion
  • In some instances there are no clinical signs
How May Massage Help?

  • Pain management
  • Addresses protective muscle splinting
  • Addresses areas of overcompensation
  • May improve range of motion depending on the severity of the ED


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