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Occur when the ligaments which attach articulating bones together are moved (at force) outside of their natural range of movement and become fully or partially torn. They can occur due to a number of reasons, twisting, falling, slipping, past injuries, obesity, jumping, repetitive motor patterns, impact and more. There are four types of sprain and these are graded in terms of seriousness of injury.


1st Degree


Minor tear or stretch; this will be tender for the animal and there will be minor tears to the ligament. This will often occur when the animal has a straight leg but a twist occurs causing the ligament to tear. Often this will occur to the collateral ligaments within the knee (both medial and lateral). The animal will be lame.


2nd Degree


Tear and swelling; again can occur when there is a twist to the leg. Often this can occur when the top of the leg moves when the bottom
remains stationary; the result being a tear in the meniscus ligament. This will be very painful to the animal and will present as a swelling to the inner knee (or other location), there will be large tears but not through the entire ligament. The animal will be lame due to the pain and effect that the injury has on the ligament and the range of movements.


3rd Degree


Total rupture of the ligament; the animal will be in a lot of pain and will be unstable on the limb. There will also be swelling around the site of the injury; this type of injury is often seen with the cruciate ligament. The animal will hold its leg up and not straighten it due to the level of pain involved in doing so.


4th Degree


Broken ligament with a piece of bone – This occurs when the impact of the sprain breaks the ligament right across and due to this impact the bone to which it is attached will partially come away with it. The animal will be in extreme pain and have extensive swelling; they will also not weight bear on this limb due to the pain involved.