One morning, after being out all night Gus limped across the yard dragging his right back leg. I picked him up and moved his knee joint, it was barely hanging on his body. If he was a human soccer player this would have been severe knee ligament (ACL, MCL, LCL) damage from a nasty slide tackle. I have no idea how Gus was injured.
The knee was pinned and bandaged, Gus lay around and went into deep healing mode – he was very quiet and didn’t interact. Eventually the pin worked itself out of his body which was a surprise. We kept him indoors to keep him safe.
Initially he limped holding the leg up in the air when he walked, gradually over many months he put more weight on the leg, he could walk and run a little. The knee alignment wasn’t the same, in orthopedic terms he had valgus knee alignment – the knee buckles in instead of lining up straight. Consequently athletes that have long term knee ligament/meniscus/cartilage damage also develop the same alignment presentation.
Gus would straighten (stretch) the damaged leg a lot! As you can see from the picture he would lie on his left side and straighten the right back leg/knee joint. The leg would shake and tremble. Gus kept up with his stretching routine many times a day for the rest of his life. Over a period of about 2 years he eventually regained most of the knee function back and was able to go back outside.
I tell an abbreviated story about Gus’ injury and healing ability to my clients with orthopedic injuries. They want to know how long it will take before they can return to their activities/sports. They often ask how many times a week they should exercise. I tell them Gus kept his leg safe, modified his activities, exercised and stretched many, many, many times a day for the rest of his life.
The body is an amazing self healing mechanism whether it is a cat or a person. The simplest rehab protocol: rest, graduated exercise and diligent attention to mobility is often what works best.