How do you know if your dog has torn a ligament/tendon?

Question: 

My dog was dropped from a grooming table and fell on the floor on her “wrist.” It was badly swollen and painful. My vet x-rayed the leg and shoulder and the splinted the leg. After 2 weeks the splint was removed but she still won't walk on it. How long does sprain take to heal or is something wrong?

Answer: 

Tendon and ligament injuries are challenging to treat, because they can be difficult to diagnose (tendons and ligaments don't show up on x-rays) and are slow to heal. Some tendon or ligament injuries, like hyperextension injuries, can require specific x-ray views to demonstrate that instability is present. It is very common for dogs to not bear weight immediately after a bandage is removed, but if this is a simple sprain, your pet should start bearing weight within the next week or so. If your pet is still unwilling to bear weight at the scheduled recheck examination, your veterinarian may refer you to a surgical specialist for additional x-ray views, and possibly surgery.

 

Image Credit: Photo by Brad Patterson, CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr