Legg calve perthes disease is a disease of the hip joints usually affecting small breeds. It develops between 3 and 13 months of age. The blood supply to the femoral head (the ball of the hip joint) is inadequate, leading to necrosis (death) of the femoral head. This results in a roughened, irregular joint surface. Moving the rear legs causes pain, and the leg muscles weaken and shrink from insufficient use. Occasionally the limbs actually shorten. One or both rear legs may be affected. If only one leg is involved, the dog usually refuses to bear any weight on that limb.
Appropriate exercise is vitally important to maintain muscle mass to help improve the stability of the hip joint, maintain endurance and cardiovascular fitness and maintain the health of the articular cartilage surrounding the joint.
Hydrotherapy is an excellent way to encourage joint mobility and stabilise the joint through building up muscle mass quickly and safely. Consistent, regular, gentle exercise such as swimming is the key to effective management of Legg calves Perthes Disease in conjunction with medication.
- Increased joint range of movement
- Increased muscle strength
- Improved muscle patterning and recruitment
- Prevention of secondary complications
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Decreased pain and inflammation
- Potentially earlier return to normal function
- Slowing of progression of degenerative disease processes
- Improved quality of life
- Relaxation of muscle tension and/or muscle spasm
- Feeling of well-being due to release of endorphins
- Reduction of frustration for dogs on cage rest or reduced exercise – less likely to be “uncontrollable” as on land