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Dog walking injuries!

How many of us have a dog (or dogs!) to walk? Getting out in the fresh air with “man’s best friend” is definitely one of life’s pleasures and brings many benefits; including exercise, sunlight, being in nature and social interaction with other dog owners.

However, as an osteopath at The Odiham Clinic I see patients with injuries as a direct result of dog-walking, as well as patients with conditions that it can make worse, so it makes sense to be aware of the potential risks imposed by our hairy hound!

Knee injuries

 An over-excited dog can accidentally run full force into the knee. A sudden force from the front can cause the knee to hyperextend, whilst a collision from the side can sprain the collateral ligaments of the knee.

The soft tissue around the knee can also become damaged. Soft tissue structures called bursae, which promote normal knee function and protection, can become inflamed.

This is a painful injury and the knee may seize up making it difficult to walk. In extreme cases the knee joint may become unstable due to severe ligament sprain or tear.

With treatment and good home-management mild to moderate ligament injuries can take up to three months to heal.

Leg injuries

We have lots of beautiful countryside locally, however whilst fields and canal paths are picturesque and fabulous for the dogs themselves, the ground you are walking on is often uneven – a risk even for those without a dog.

One of my patients stumbled on uneven ground when walking their dog across a field, experiencing immediate pain to the inner thigh. They found walking painful and going upstairs more difficult.

It appeared they had strained the sartorius muscle (the longest muscle in the body) which travels from the front of the hip, along the inner thigh to inside and below the knee. This muscle works to control the hip and knee joint.

Muscular injuries are relatively straightforward to treat and manage, and they recovered in a few weeks with regular hands-on treatment and by following some simple advice at home. They quickly returned to walking their precious pup.

Shoulder injuries

 The other area of the body that can be affected by dog-walking is the shoulder region; caused, as you might expect, by issues when walking your dog on a lead.

A common condition we see in the clinic is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). This is where the nerves that supply the arm and hand get trapped in one side of the neck and shoulder region. TOS can vary from a mild nuisance with pins and needles to severe pain lasting throughout the day.

TOS in a dog-walker can be caused by pulling the dog’s lead.

Another frequently observed shoulder injury is tendinitis, particularly of the rotator cuff. This is often seen when patients use extendable leads where your dog can run at speed and come to an abrupt stop. This can cause a muscle strain injury and set in motion the subsequent muscle spasm and tendon impingement.

Luckily these injuries are all treatable at the Clinic and with the correct diagnosis, treatment and advice from the outset, you are guaranteed a speedier recovery.

Our Osteopaths can help with aches & pains associated with dog-walking and we wish you continued joy walking your furry-friend!