Signs of musculoskeletal disorders include weakness, lameness, limb swelling, and joint dysfunction. Motor or sensory neurologic impairment may develop secondary to neuromuscular lesions. Abnormalities of the musculoskeletal system may also affect other organs of the endocrine, urinary, digestive, hemolymphatic, and cardiopulmonary systems. Evaluation of musculoskeletal disease is aimed at localizing and defining the lesion(s). Diagnosis requires accurate review of the signalment, history, and physical status of the animal. A lameness examination is critical in determining a diagnosis. Useful ancillary tests include radiography, ultrasonography, arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, arthrography, electromyography, and tissue biopsy and histopathology. For subtle lesions, advanced imaging such as bone scans, CT, or MRI may be needed.
Last full review/revision March 2012 by Joseph Harari, MS, DVM, DACVS