Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia refers to an abnormality of the elbow joint (the joint on the front limbs formed by the humerus, radius and ulna). There are four classifications of elbow dysplasia - 

Fragmented Coronoid Process - this is the most common and is where a small piece of bone becomes fragmented which causes irritation in the joint, prevents the joint from moving as smoothly as it should and is likely to cause early onset arthritis.

Ununited Anconeal Process - a piece of bone grows separately from the ulna and fails to unite, again causing irritation in the joint and leading to arthritis.

Osteochondrosis Dissecans - A disease that can occur in various joints, in the case of it leading to elbow dysplasia the cartilage from the condyle of the humerus develops too quickly, drying out and detaching either partially or fully from the bone. This then causes inflammation and pain.

Medial Compartment Disease - this is the least common cause and is where the bones don't articulate correctly, causing the cartilage to wear down exposing the bone. The area then becomes inflamed and painful.

What causes elbow dysplasia?

  • Breed disposition
  • Over exercise / repetitive exercise as a puppy
  • Obesity / poor nutrition in puppies
  • Early impact exercise
  • Injury or trauma to the joint while it is still developing


  • Lameness
  • Stiffness
  • Standing bow legged
  • Lack of control from a stand or sit to a down - flopping rather than lowering
  • Difficulty with stairs
  • Reluctance to jump
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Thickened or swollen joint
  • Licking at the affected joint

How can massage help?

  • Breaks down protective muscle splinting
  • Addresses overcompensation
  • Helps to provide pain management
  • Reduces swelling and inflammation