Arthritis In Horses


All About Arthritis In Horses

Just like in humans, arthritis in horses is a common medical condition. Most horses are housed in small stables and they are not able to walk or move around for several hours. When they are allowed to venture out, they have a tendency to over exercise and are sometimes even over worked. If this cycle continues for a long period of time, it can cause arthritis in horses.

Arthritis is a potentially dangerous condition for horses. It can eventually cause lameness in horses and it damages the joints. The most common areas for the arthritis to occur are in the hocks, coffin joints, front fetlocks and knee joints. The causes for the arthritis can be from an injury or an abnormal growth pattern. But in some cases, the arthritis can be hereditary and can be seen in other members of the same horse family.

Arthritis in horses happens because of a thinning of the synovial fluid responsible for lubricating healthy joints. The makes the cartilage cushion break down and as the condition progresses the bones can actually touch each other a rub together from movement. This is exceptionally painful for the horse. Older horses are more at risk for arthritis and they can also suffer with ligaments and tendons that become more elastic. Joint instability and ligament and tendon tears are the result of elasticized ligaments.

Horses that do not exercise or are overworked have the greatest risk for developing arthritis. This over activity or lack of exercise also can cause deformities over a period of time. For example, these things can make the legs crooked or bowed, or the toes of the horse can grow in or out. All of these things wear down the leg and foot joints and can cause severe arthritis in horses.

There are certain warning signs that a horse can present if arthritis is present. The horse may not act as playful as usual and he may retreat back to the stall area to avoid moving. There may be swelling in one or more of the joints and it may show signs of leg stiffness. If the horse has visible trouble after exercising and starts to limp of favor a leg, than he is probably in the beginning stages of arthritis. It is important to get medical help for the horse when you spot any sign of a problem. The arthritis in horses is treatable and the veterinarian can begin to ease the symptoms so that the arthritis does not become severe.

The veterinarian can run tests to see how far the disease has progressed. He will draw fluids form the joint and examine it for signs of deterioration. He will take X-rays and he may also do an ultrasound. After the veterinarian finds out how bad the problem is, he can start to treat the horse.

The treatment for arthritis in horses varies. This all depends on how far the disease has progressed. Horses that have just started suffering with the condition can be treated with ice packs and rest. This treatment will be continued until any swelling or pain is gone. In the worst cases, the veterinarian will have to do surgery to correct the problem. During this surgery he will either clean the joints or he may have to fuse them together.

Certain drugs can help with this condition. Anti inflammatory drugs can help to reduce the swelling in the joints and they can also help eliminate pain. But these drugs can only be used temporarily because they sometimes cause gastrointestinal problems in horses. There are also other medications that can be injected directly into the joint. They provide pain relief and protect the cartilage from further damage.