Please Help- Leg Issues with Chick!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Ewisdom, Apr 16, 2016.

  1. Ewisdom

    Ewisdom New Egg

    Apr 9, 2016

    I just acquired a two-day-old chick I'm trying to help. It was part of a classroom hatching program. They said she was slow to hatch and just didn't seem quite right. I just got her, and I thought at first she had splayed legs, but now I'm wondering if she doesn't have a dislocated leg. I've also heard issues incubating, like too high of a temp or disruptions, can cause crippling abnormalities.

    One of the chick's legs seems fine. The other (the right leg) is quite askew (all the way up to the thigh) and it is swollen. I made a leg brace but am not leaving it on as I'm not sure it's the right answer. Can anyone shed any light on this? Thank you![​IMG]

  2. LocalYokel

    LocalYokel Overrun With Chickens

    post #3 of 11
    4/27/14 at 9:07am

    • Location: Gilroy, CA
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    Fix Slipped Achilles Tendon in Hock Joint

    Click here to read one little chick's success story of recovery from a Slipped Tendon & Perosis.
    Click here to see a video of movement patterns of one chick with Perosis. Editor's note: The video says Perosis can't be treated after 24 hours, but I have not seen any other source say this, so I don't know that is true.

    Note from Editor: I have had no personal experience with a Slipped Achilles Tendon being treated successfully, though a number of people have. Information below is from what I have read & tried to analyze myself, but may not be sufficiently informed. Please do additional research to ensure best treatments. [If you have a success story, photos, or treatment tips, it would be very helpful if you would Contact PoultryPedia so they can be shared to help others!]
    • Slipped Achilles Tendon is a condition that results when tendon that runs down through the groove on the back of a bird's hock has slipped out of place off to the side.
    • This problem causes a serious form of Splayed Leg that cannot be corrected until the Achilles Tendon is put back in place. It may also lead to Twisted Leg and other problems if not treated soon enough.
    • This problem frequently occurs in conjunction with Chondrodystrophy / Achondroplasia & Perosis, conditions in which nutritional deficiencies in parent bird's diet keep chick's bones from developing properly to hold tendon.
      • See "Ensure adequate nutrition to prevent Perosis" section to be sure that your chick feed has appropriate amounts of essential nutrients, and try supplementing in extra if your chick is showing a problem.
    • Symptoms:
      • The back of the hock will look flat (Compare to other legs to double-check).
      • The bird won't be able to fully straighten its leg by itself.
      • The bird will likely exhibit pain at least the first few days after injury. Birds may peep or cry repeatedly.
      • The joint will become swollen after a while.
      • Hold the joint between your thumb & finger and roll it back and forth. If the tendon has slipped, you will feel it snap back into place (and back out again, if the bone is not sufficiently developed). If you don't feel the tendon pop in, your bird may instead have a rotated femur, which requires surgery.
      • One leg may rotate out to the side or twist underneath the bird (showing Splayed Leg), depending on whether the tendon has slipped to the outside or inside of the leg.
      • If the tendons are slipped in both legs, the bird will stand & walk hunched down / squatting on its hocks ("elbows"), and may use its wings for balance.
    • Treat this problem as soon as possible, so the joint doesn't swell as much (making healing more difficult) and the tendon does not end up shortened or deformed.
      • If the tendon has been out of place more than a few days, it may be unbearably painful to the bird to try to fix it or may cause damage. You could try gradually stretching the leg the leg a number of times a few days to lengthen the tendon, & then try correcting the placement.
        • This is especially true of young chicks because their legs are growing so quickly. Various bones, tendons & muscles will have done a lot of growing in just a couple of days and may have become too short, long or twisted so they can't allow the Achilles tendon to be back in the correct location.
    • To reposition the tendon into the correct place: Gently pull the upper part of bird's leg a bit behind normal position and then carefully straighten the leg as though bird were stretching its leg back in a pretty normal stretching motion. Press gently against the side of the tendon if needed, and it should pop back into place pretty easily and cause little if any pain. Gently release the leg and it should return to a normal bent position.
      • Some sources recommend pushing the tendon back in place just by pressing with your finger. However, stretching the leg back is a much less painful method.
    • Sometimes a tendon has a hard time staying in place. It may have been out of place for too long or a chick's hock groove may not yet have developed enough to hold the tendon well (Be sure to provide very good nutrition to support optimal bone growth at this time. Do NOT give Calcium or other nutrients in excessive amounts, however--that could cause other problems.).
      • You can repeat the repositioning of the tendon additional times. This may help the tendon gradually lengthen & shape correctly, while the bone is also growing enough to hold the tendon better.
      • You can put the tendon in place & then ***wrap the joint area with sports tape*** or other tape to help hold it there. Use a thin strip of tape wrapped several times around the joint. Change the tape after a few days to ensure it doesn't restrict circulation too much.
      • It will also help if you put the bird in a Chick / Chicken Sling or Chair and/or put its leg in a cast (such as one made from a bendable drinking straw) for a few days (~5) while re-alignment stabilizes.
        • (Note: There is some debate on whether it is better for feet to not touch the ground--as recommended below-- or to touch the ground a little. Please research further when making the choice.)
        • It is important for the legs not be able to reach the ground. The bird needs to be suspended with its legs just hanging freely or in not-too-tight casts shaped in normal bent angle. In this position, the chick won't try to use its legs as much. Its legs need relaxed rest in their normal position until the tendon(s) have stretched and adjusted back to the right place and shape.
    • Even after the tendon is back in place, the bird may continue to have some problems walking for a few days. If so, use a Hock Cushion(s) to protect its hock(s) from chafing & bruising during recovery. Limber the leg by gently stretching the leg several times a day, as you did when repositioning the tendon (Check to make sure the tendon stays in place.). If the chick struggles to figure out correct movements, Physical Therapy or short sessions in a Chick Cup (More info to be added.) may help.
    • You can try Surgery for a tendon that won't go into place or won't stay in place, along with other treatments. Click here to read one little chick's success story.
    • If there is swelling on hock:
    • If infection is part of what is causing joint to swell, you will find pus. In this case, recovery is almost always impossible, and would be EXTREMELY difficult. In almost all cases the bird should be put down to avoid additional suffering.
    • If swelling was just caused by displacement that has now been fixed, swelling will go down in 2-4 days.
    Ensure adequate nutrition to prevent Perosis leading to Slipped Achilles Tendon &/or Twisted Leg

    • Perosis occurs in chicks that are at least one week old and can be in one or both legs..
    • It starts as Chondrodystrophy / Achondroplasia (cartilage & bone development problems) and can involve slipping of Achilles Tendon and twisting of long bones (condition called Twisted Leg)
    • Symptoms: Enlarged, flattened hocks and short, bowed legs, along with slow growth. Chick may look dwarfish. One leg may stick out to the side, or there can be a variety of other leg angles.
    • Treatment: Deformities will not necessarily be completely eradicated but may be lessened by adding appropriate balanced supplementation and/or switching to Chick Starter or Grower Feed that has been commercially formulated.
    • Choline, biotin, manganese, &/or zinc can be factors in Perosis & may need to be increased. Pyridoxine, folic acid & niacin deficiencies may also affect, and need to be corrected.
    Physical Therapy for Trouble Standing and Walking

    • Use to treat Splayed Leg or other problems with chick holding legs incorrectly.
      • Can be done even while chick is wearing Leg Hobbles.
    • Helps the chick "practice" walking correctly. The main purpose is to reprogram its brain patterns, but therapy also helps develop needed muscles.
      • It is better for a chick to spend time sitting or lying down than using its legs wrong.
    • Support chick's body a little while gently pointing its legs forward and extended the way they should be while standing. Try to lessen your support of its body for a moment or two and hopefully the chick will push up with its legs and find out that leg angle and position is a good one for balancing.
      • If it's 5+ days old, you can also hold up a treat above its head to encourage it to increasingly push up with its legs to grab the treat. It's okay the chick's legs and balance will be wobbly at first and that it falls over sometimes--just catch and steady it with your hands.
        • Good treats: Very small piece of bread, tomato, strawberry, banana, lettuce, spinach, grass, etc.
          • Be sure to add a bit of chick-sized grit (tiny stones or coarse sand) to chick's diet if offering treats.
    • Within a day or so of starting therapy, add in some walking therapy. Hold its legs with your fingers and move/step them forward one at a time so the chick learns to take steps and walk correctly. Try the best you can to arrange your thumb & fingers so you can push the rotated hock out to the side so that leg points forward pretty straight like it should as you're doing . This is tricky!
    • Number of sessions for newly hatched chick:
      • Days 1-3: Minimum of six 30-second to 2 minute sessions per day.
      • Days 4-5: Minimum of nine 1 to 3 minute sessions per day.
      • Days 6-7: As needed.

    Edited by casportpony - 4/27/14 at 9:08am


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