Joint Subluxations

What is a joint subluxation?

A joint luxation is a dislocation or complete separation between the bone ends that normally bond to form a joint. Subluxation implies the presence of a incomplete or dislocation of a joint. In cats,  the most commonly subluxated joint is the hip.

A car accident or bad fall, is the most likely cause of sudden or severe joint subluxations. Certain cat breeds, such as the Main coon, are more likely to experience joint subluxation as they have a higher chance of inheriting a predisposition to a conformation or anatomical condition that can lead to subluxation such as hip dysphasia.

What are the clinical signs of a joint subluxation?

Common clinical signs include:

  1. Sudden limping or lameness
  2. Not wanting to walk or jump
  3. Expressing pain when touched
  4. Warmth or swelling of the joint
  5. Constant licking at the joint
  6. Reduced appetite
  7. Reduced activity

How is a joint subluxation diagnosed?

You vet will look into your cat’s history and look for any incidents of trauma, injury or recent intense activity or exertion and undergo a full physical examination. If your vet suspects joint subluxation at this stage, then a radiograph (X-ray) will be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

How is a joint subluxation treated?

In many cases, the joint can be reduced or replaced to its original orientation by a procedure called a closed reduction.  After reducing the subluxated joint, an external bandage or supportive wrap is necessary to hold the joint in proper alignment as the joint capsule heals.

What is the prognosis for a joint subluxation?

The prognosis for recovery is good in most cases of acute or traumatic joint subluxations, provided the injury is treated immediately. Chronic subluxations, such as those associated with hip dysplasia, may be successfully managed medically or may require surgical treatment. Your vet will advise you depending on your individual case.

By Gordon Roberts

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