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Olympic Skiing Champion Lindsey Vonn Adopts Dog With Same Knee Injury As Her

This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on as Olympic Skiing Champion Lindsey Vonn Adopts Dog With Same Knee Injury As Her .

Olympic Skiing Champion Lindsey Vonn Adopts Dog With Same Knee Injury As Her

Have you been following all news related to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games? It’s tough to not pay attention to the controversy and remarkable stories of athletic preparation leading up to the games in Sochi, Russia.

Downhill skiing is a popular event appealing to both snow-sports enthusiasts and armchair athletes alike. Having grown up with a ski-patrolling father, I've been hitting the slopes since he put me on plastic tie-on skis as a three-year-old. Therefore, I found it quite disheartening to hear that the United States’ former Olympic and World Cup championLindsey Vonn would not be competing in the 2014 games. Evidently, an aggravation to Vonn’s surgically repaired knee will prevent her from taking another shot at Olympic gold and relegate her to a commentating role.

Vonn took to her Facebook page to make the announcement yet put a positive spin on an unfortunate situation in saying:

“I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi. I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level. I'm having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February. On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold. Thank you all so much for all of the love and support. I will be cheering for all of the Olympians and especially team USA! XO Lindsey”

Evidently, Vonn has a soft spot for canines and made the world aware of her newly adopted rescue pooch Leo the day after the announcement that she would not be competing. Vonn stated:

“This definitely brightened my day-I adopted this 9 month old cutie from an animal shelter. He has a bad knee from being hit by a car when he was a puppy and no one wanted him...but I do!! I encourage anyone looking for an animal to adopt from a shelter and save a life! #bumkneebuddies.”

Is it sheer coincidence that Vonn adopted a dog having orthopedic conditions reminiscent of her own? I think not. Likely, the experience of enduring physical challenges from her own knee injuries as made Vonn sympathetic towards a dog having similar musculoskeletal trauma.

What's the Nature of the Injury?

Huffington Post gives the details on Vonn’s injuries, as “during a crash at the World Championships last February, Vonn tore two ligaments in her right knee and then re-tore her ACL in a November training session before suffering an MCL sprain in a race in France last month.” The ACL is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament and the MCL stands for the Medial Collateral Ligament.

Though the exact nature of Leo’s knee issues have not been revealed, it’s highly likely that he could have incurred injuries similar to his owner.

Damage to the ACL is one of the most common knee injuries experienced by humans and dogs. Yet, the exact terminology used to describe the injury is different among two and four-legged species. For people, the descriptive term is anterior (forward) while in animals it is cranial (closer to the head). So, when correctly referring to an ACL tear in a dog it’s most appropriate to use CCL (instead of ACL).

The cranial cruciate ligament is a key component to knee stability, as it helps prevent the tibia (shin) from sliding forward in front of the femur (thigh bone).

Besides the anterior/cranial, there's also another cruciate ligament called the posterior in humans and caudal cruciate ligament in quadripeds.

There are also other structures that provide integrity to the knee, including the:

Patella (kneecap) and its ligaments

Lateral and medial collateral ligaments

Menisci (lateral/medial/other)


How Do You Fix an ACL or CCL Injury?

Cruciate ligament injuries can be surgically repaired or they can imperfectly heal over a period of weeks to months post-trauma.

The decision to pursue surgical repair over non-surgical healing is dependent on a variety of factors including:

Owner preference

Expense (the associated costs run in the range of thousands of dollars, etc.)

Severity of the trauma (partial vs complete tear, other knee structures involved in the injury, etc.)

Over all health status of the pet (presence of underlying disease that could affect the anesthesia-administration and recovery process, etc.)

Age (senior pets being less ideal anesthetic candidates and needing a longer healing time, etc.)

Can Anything Else Be Done?

Besides surgery, a variety of other treatments are available:

Activity restriction and confinement

Weight loss (as CCL injuries are much more common in overweight to obese dogs)

Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Pain numbing medications (Tramadol, Gabapentin, etc.)

Nutraceutical Support (chondroprotectants, omega fatty acids, etc.)

Physical Rehabilitation (water therapy, range of motion work, warm/cold compressing, etc.)

Acupuncture (needle, laser, moxibustion, electrostimulation, etc.)

Acupressure and Massage (which promote blood flow and lymphatic drainage essential for healing)


I’m so pleased to learn that Vonn is making the most of her situation and gave a dog in need a second chance in an excellent forever home. Leo’s one lucky pooch!

Learn more via the PetMD article: Torn Knee Ligament in Dogs

Thank you for reading this article. Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

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