Older horses can be at risk of sustaining an uncommon injury: acute rupture of the proximal (upper) superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) where the cannon bone meets the carpus (knee). This is because as horses age, the SDFT stiffens and becomes less elastic, decreasing its resistance to cyclic loading to the point that it can potentially tear.
Water treadmill workouts are gaining in popularity, especially for rehabilitating injuries. Compared with swimming pool exercises, water treadmill therapy allows the horse to maintain correct posture and gives a handler the ability to control the speed, incline, water height, and resistance of the workout.
Lameness evaluations can be extremely subjective. When examining a horse with a mild lameness, in particular, veterinarians often don’t agree on a diagnosis—some are prone to seeing a more sound horse, others a more lame one. To overcome such disparities, practitioners have turned to objective methods such as force plates and inertial sensor s...
If you want to get a clear look what’s going on in your horse’s joints, optical coherence tomography (OCT) might be a new method to use, according to a group of Finnish researchers.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive deterioration of joint health with no known cure. Not only does OA negatively affect athleticism and quality of life but it is also a major cause of economic loss throughout the equine industry.
While equine surgeons enjoy sharing the mantra “if in doubt, cut it out,” researchers recently reported that when it comes to some osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) lesions, letting nature run its course might be the better option.
Early in 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved tiludronate for intravenous administration in horses with navicular disease. Despite being a relatively new drug used in veterinary medicine, some equine practitioners are already prescribing tiludronate for “off-label” use in horses with other conditions, such as osteoarthritis by ...
When it comes to catastrophic injuries in racehorses, most people immediately think of severe limb fractures. But these athletes sometimes suffer life-threatening fractures beyond the limbs. Lumbar vertebral fractures, for instance, can occur in the loin area near where the rear of the saddle sits.
The big names are recognizable: Barbaro, Eight Belles, St Nicholas Abbey. But hundreds of other racehorses have suffered racing or training injuries that ultimately proved fatal, as well. And while everyone would like to see the number of catastrophic injuries that occur on racetracks reduced, finding ways to actually accomplish that is easier said than d...
Scientists from the University of Liverpool and Queen Mary University of London, both in England, have examined the mechanisms that cause tendon aging in horses, which could open up the possibility of better treatment for both horses and humans in the future.
Moderate to severe superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendon lesions in Thoroughbred racehorses have typically carried a poor prognosis for a return to racing and a lengthy rehabilitation process for horses that do return. But a team of veterinarians recently took a closer look at a procedure that could help improve the outcome for Thoroughbreds with such i...
A series of studies by researchers in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University suggest prevention is the best solution to prevent arthritis in young horses.
Veterinarians and farriers apply a wide variety of horseshoes to treat the plethora of hoof problems that come our horses’ way, not to mention issues farther up the limb. Injuries to the suspensory ligament (a structure crucial to a horse's limb support system) are notoriously difficult to treat, so veterinarians recently tested a modern version...
Injecting medication directly into a horse's joint might make some owners wary of complications. But British researchers have recently shown that, when careful aseptic techniques are used, the risks are actually very low.
Keeping aging equids comfortable and sound is a top priority (and, often, a challenge) among senior horse owners. To help their older horses along, many owners reach for one or more of the available supplements designed to alleviate joint issues. But just how effective are these products?
By now it's no secret that MRI is the gold standard in diagnosing pain in the rear (palmar) portion of horses' feet. However, many owners still choose to have less-reliable radiography performed on their heel-sore horses due to MRI's high cost and inconvenience.
Could something even smaller than a pea end a horse's athletic career? If that something is a cystic lesion in the stifle (or femoral condylar cyst), it's entirely possible. Fortunately, specific management approaches can help some horses return to their jobs in the arena or on the track with few, if any, lasting effects.
With six bones articulating in close range and multiple tendons and ligaments controlling extension and flexion, the hock, or the horse equivalent of the human ankle, has many moving and shock-absorbing parts. Add to those the animal’s weight and the fact the joint is almost always in flexion, and you’ve got a recipe for a perplexing number of...
You had high hopes for your Thoroughbred racing prospect until he sustained a suspensory ligament branch injury as a yearling. The question now is, after rehab, should you continue to pursue his racing career, or should you skip the track and point him down a different career path? Recent study results suggest the answer depends on the severity of the inj...
When a racehorse breaks down on the track, you're not only faced with the devastating loss of a horse, but also economic loss and, potentially, an injured jockey. One of the most common sites of catastrophic injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses is the fetlock and its surrounding structures.
The senior horse population is, and has been, on the rise. But with increasing age comes the potential for health problems. So what are the best ways to ensure senior horses stay healthy all through their golden years?
In the face of new racing medication rules, veterinarians are revisiting treatment approaches for injured animals on layup that trainers hope to send back to the track soon. At the American Association of Equine Practitioners' Convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Nashville, Tenn., Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, described how these restricti...
Horses’ tendons and ligaments, soft tissues structures connecting muscles to bone and bone to bone, facilitate a variety of athletic feats. Because these structures function close to their load limits, horses—especially racehorses and performance horses under work stress--are at risk for injury, or re-injury after rehabilitation. Veterinarians...
When you buy a new horse trailer, chances are you'll also get lots technical information about the “fatigue life” of mechanical parts like the shocks or the clamp to close the hitch. That fatigue life refers to how long these parts can be used—opening and closing, absorbing shock, clamping, or whatever they do—before they break.
Ever heard of the horse's third trochanter? It's a part of a bone, and guess what: It can break. While not common, third trochanter fractures can cause almost instant, severe hind limb lameness that can be difficult to diagnose. But the news isn't all bad: French researchers say these fractures probably won’t end a horse's athletic c...
Researchers are brightening up the field of monitoring equine tendonitis healing: Recent study results suggest that the colors displayed by Doppler ultrasonography could help veterinarians better follow the healing processes of certain conditions, like tendonitis.
If you’ve ever been confused by the differences between osteochondrosis and osteochondritis dissecans, or wondered whether these are the same as developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) or just examples of it, you’re not alone. For decades, diseases of the bones, joints, and cartilage in young horses have sparked many word-slinging debates among...
Calumet Farm's Oxbow, winner of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), likely will not run again this year, according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Have a young foal with osteochondrosis? Don't panic or put him under the corrective surgery knife just yet. A new study has shown that up to two-thirds of all radiographic findings in weanlings can change—usually for the better—within a year.
St Nicholas Abbey underwent emergency surgery for colic the morning of July 26, and his prognosis is "very guarded," owner Coolmore said.
St Nicholas Abbey, who suffered a fractured pastern during a routine work July 23 and underwent surgery the following day, is recuperating in the intensive care unit at Fethard Equine Hospital in England.
It's common knowledge that osteochondrosis—a developmental orthopedic disease that results from a disruption in the growth of articular cartilage located in specific joints—can cause problems for young horses, but how common is it? How are different breeds affected? Where are the most common lesion sites? And, of course, what’s the m...
Veterinarians might soon turn to a new, high-tech treatment option for horses with gait-altering fibrotic myopathy: laser surgery.
Do you bed your young horses down in stalls in the winter? How smooth and flat are your pastures? When you’re trying to raise good bones and joints, these questions are worth considering. Because, according to French researchers, how you manage your young stock can have a direct effect on how osteochondral lesions evolve—for better or for worse.
Twenty-two years after a prominent equine veterinary researcher declared it a primary research focus, osteochondrosis—together with other orthopedic disorders of juvenile horses—is now the central topic of a special issue of the Veterinary Journal.
Phipps Stable's Point of Entry, winner of the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) June 8, suffered a condylar fracture in his left hind cannon bone and will have surgery, trainer Shug McGaughey said.
Many fractures once deemed inoperable can now be surgically repaired successfully, but management approaches during the critical post-fracture window can have a major impact on outcomes. One equine practitioner reported that veterinarians must be prepared with the appropriate knowledge and equipment to help save these patients' lives.
Fracture stabilization is one of the most important steps in addressing potentially catastrophic injuries in horses. One of the staples veterinarians use to stabilize equine limb fractures is the Robert Jones bandage, a layered and padded bandage, sometimes used in conjunction with a splint layered inside the wrap, designed to limit limb mobility.
Did you know that ultrasound can be used for more than just diagnosing tendon and ligament injuries in horses? Indeed, veterinarians can also use it therapeutically to treat soft tissue injuries, but what settings they should use and how long they should treat an injured horse has, until now, been a bit of a "guesstimation" game.
Although they don't tend to garner as much attention as infectious neurologic diseases, vestibular diseases (those that pertain to the balance mechanisms) are common and important causes of neurologic problems in horses. At the 2013 Western Veterinary Conference, held Feb. 17-21, Laurie Beard, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, associate clinical professor at Kans...
When administering equine joint injections, veterinarians must take steps to minimize the risk of septic arthritis developing in the treated joint. Particularly in equine athletes, septic arthritis can be a devastating and debilitating complication, though aggressive treatment returns a large range (27-92%) of affected horses back to work.
Lower limb radiographs can help practitioners uncover valuable information about bones, joints, and joint balance in equine athletes, but Colorado State University (CSU) researchers have determined the usefulness and accuracy of this information depends largely on how the horse stands during X ray capture.
A research team from the Nutraceutical Alliance Inc. shared some good news for owners of horses with osteoarthritis at the 2012 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention: A nutritional supplement fed immediately after osteochondral fragment removal surgery could help reduce the amount of post-surgical inflammation in the joint.
Since its inception in the 1930s, the inaugural patent in 1974, and the successful construction of the world’s first whole-body scanner by 1977, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become an indomitable tool in both human and equine medicine. Today, equine practitioners use MRI extensively to help diagnose even the most subtle lameness causes.
Joint infections are a serious occurrence in horses with the potential to end an athletic career or even a life. Although survival rates are as high as 62% in foals and 85% in adults, only 48-66% of horses return to previous athletic activity after a joint infection.
Musculoskeletal injuries are an all-too common cause of lameness in horses. Thanks to the advent of biologic therapies, including stem cells, tendon injuries aren’t the “death sentence” they once were. Despite the positive results associated with stem cells in equine tendon injuries, however, the “best” way to obtain and use ...
A puffy fetlock. A knee that's warm to the touch. A hock that feels just a bit sticky in the trot. All are common performance problems pointing to the possible onset of osteoarthritis (OA). Equine joint therapy is often used to treat these types of OA-inflammation related issues while potentially modulating disease.
A fracture can put a horse's athletic future--sometimes even his life--on the line, and basing treatment on a complete and accurate diagnosis can make a major difference in the horse's recovery. A veterinarian in Belgium believes computed tomography (CT) offers a better option for imaging some lower limb fractures than radiography.
The biblical saying, "two are better than one because they have a good return for their work," succinctly describes recommendations Natalie Zdimal, DVM, recently made regarding diagnostic imaging for suspensory-ligament-related injuries. Horses with such injuries generally have discomfort in the back the back of the fore- and hind-limbs near the...
Horses can't describe brewing musculoskeletal discomfort the way human athletes can, so trainers and veterinarians don't know which horses to put on the proverbial bench to prevent career- or even life-ending injuries. But an equine research team has been using MRI to detect bone changes that could indicate a horse is at risk for catastrophic fetl...
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