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Companion Animal Practice
Lameness and weakness in dogs: is it orthopaedic or neurological?
  1. Malcolm McKee

    Malcolm McKee graduated from Glasgow in 1983. He is a partner in the Willows Referral Service in Solihull, and an RCVS specialist in small animal surgery (orthopaedics). His particular interests are complex fracture management, joint replacement and spinal surgery in the dog. He is past chairman of the British Veterinary Orthopaedic Association.


DIAGNOSING the cause of lameness or weakness in dogs is not always straightforward. Although orthopaedic conditions are the most common cause of thoracic and pelvic limb lameness and neurological disorders the most common cause of weakness, occasionally neurological cases may be presented due to lameness and orthopaedic cases due to weakness. Diagnosing orthopaedic and neurological disorders as causes of weakness and lameness, respectively, can be challenging. A detailed history and thorough clinical examination, with emphasis on the orthopaedic and neurological components, is essential. This article describes the orthopaedic and neurological causes of lameness, and weakness and incoordination, and highlights the specific investigations that can be carried out to differentiate between the two.

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