Feline Sprain Injuries
A sprain is damage to tissue supporting a joint, primarily ligament damage. Ligaments are tough fibrous material that connect one bone to another. There are three categories of sprains and each may require different treatment.
Grade I. These are sprains in which a portion of the ligament is torn. The ligament still keeps the bones together and is still functional. Swelling and pain may be apparent.
Grade II. These sprains are those in which the ligament is partially torn or significantly stretched. The ligament still connects one bone to another but does not have the strength to function normally. Swelling, pain and inability to fully use the joint may be seen.
Grade III. This ligament damage is the worst type and is no longer a sprain. The ligament is completely torn and there is no longer a connection from one bone to another. A common example of this type of ligament damage is a torn cruciate ligament (in the knee).
The most common cause of sprains is trauma. Automobile accident, animal attacks or fights, falling from a high area or injuries during running or exercise are most commonly implicated.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Sprains in Cats
Diagnosing a sprain can be done based on physical exam findings. Typically X-rays are done to determine if a fracture is present because the symptoms are similar. X-rays can cannot determine the extent of ligament damage.
Determining the grade of sprain can be more difficult and is generally done based on the physical examination. Sedation is sometimes required to allow the veterinarian to feel and move the joint while the surrounding muscles are relaxed.
Treatment of Sprains in Cats
Treatment of a sprain is based on severity.
There is no home care for ligament damage or sprains. Treatment is recommended in order to speed healing and prevent further joint damage. Prior to veterinary care, keep your pet quiet and confined to a small area. Do not allow him to walk significant distances, jump or run.
Once your pet returns home from treatment, strict confinement is crucial. If a splint was applied, keep it clean and dry. Watch the edges of the splint for rubbing or chafing of the skin. Watch the toes for swelling.
Give anti-inflammatory or pain medication as recommended by your veterinarian.
Most sprains are caused by some type of traumatic incident. Avoiding trauma by keeping cats indoor and leash walking dogs can greatly diminish the chance of injury. But pets are like children and accidents do happen. It is very difficult to suppress a happy playful pet when he really wants to play.