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What is Chronic Sesamoiditis in Dogs?

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There is nothing more adorable than a big, fluffy dog. Large-breed dogs are wonderful but, unfortunately, they are very prone to orthopedic problems, partially resulting from their size. One orthopedic condition known to affect larger dogs is one you probably haven’t heard of – chronic sesamoiditis, also known as sesamoid disease. Keep reading to learn what it is and how to treat it.

What Exactly is Chronic Sesamoiditis?

For many years, sesamoid disease was thought to be the result of trauma to the feet – the result of an injury that caused tiny fractures to form in the small bones. While this is a valid condition, animal experts now know that this chronic sesamoiditis is an entirely different condition. Sesamoid disease is still poorly understood, but it has been identified as an orthopedic disease affecting large-breed dogs in which the small sesamoid bones located in the wrist and ankle degenerate.

Related: What Is Hip Dysplasia In Dogs?

One of the things researchers have yet to understand about the disease is why it causes severe pain in some cases and no pain in others. Some experts believe that the disease is caused by the weight of larger breeds bearing down on the feet, causing chronic stress on the tiny bones. Others suggest, however, that it may have something to do with poor blood supply to the bones leading to degeneration. Because the condition is still poorly understood, treatment options are limited except for managing the pain.

What Are the Symptoms and Treatment Options?

Though many cases of chronic sesamoiditis cause no symptoms, other cases are extremely painful. It is fairly uncommon for dogs to become lame or to experience any pain, even when the affected joint is manipulated. In other cases, however, the dog will exhibit pain on palpitation, swelling of the joint, and mild to marked lameness. It is also fairly common for the joint to thicken as a result of osteoarthritis – this may also lead to reduced range of motion. Though this condition can affect the back feet, it more commonly affects the front feet and, in most cases, more than one joint is involved.

Related: All About Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Treatment options for sesamoid disease has become something of a controversy among veterinary surgeons. Some surgeons opt for the removal of the affected bone but, in many cases, this simply leads to more problems – many dogs develop poor range of motion from the bone removal and post-operative pain frequently persists. Except in the most severe cases, the treatment of choice is pain relievers and nutraceuticals to mitigate pain and reduce discomfort. In cases where the dog displays no symptoms, no treatment is required.

Because sesamoid disease has the potential to be very serious, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to prevent it. Unfortunately, the underlying cause of the condition is still unclear which makes prevention a little more difficult. Veterinarians suspect that the condition has a genetic link, but they have yet to determine whether the disease affects any specific breeds more than others. Hopefully, in the future, research will reveal the answers to these important questions.


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