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Luxating Patella

The patella, otherwise known as the kneecap sits in a groove at the end of the femur. This groove allows the patella to slide up and down when the knee joint is bent forwards and backwards and controls the movement of the quadriceps muscle in the lower leg.  A luxating patella occurs when the patella becomes dislocated from its normal position jumping out of the groove and moving sideways, which causes the leg to lock and the dog will hold its leg up. The dog can only put its leg back down once the quadriceps muscles in the hind legs relax and lengthen.


This condition can occur as part of a trauma to the knee but is often a genetic cause and a consequence of bad breeding. Signs of this condition can start from as young as 4 months old when the dog is in the growth phase and malformation of the groove and patella occurs.

Symptoms of a luxating Patella


  • Hop and skipping movement

  • Limping

  • A stiff awkward gait

  • Unable to extend knee properly

  • Crying in pain

  • Restricted movement in the stifle

  • Sudden stopping and holding the leg off the ground

How massage can help


  • Helps to stabilise the kneecap by developing supporting muscles and connective tissues

  • Helping any areas of overcompensation reducing overall pain

  • Helps to make sure that the dog is able to use both legs equally minimising the risk of the same problem occurring on the other leg

  • Reducing overall soreness, stiffness and pain

  • Helps to keep the dog active

  • Alleviates tightness which can form down the back

  • Helps to lengthen muscles which insert and attach around the patella which can reduce the amount of times the patella dislocates

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