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Horse Joint Injections
 By Winniefield Park   •   8th Jan 2017   •   1,174 views   •   0 comments


Horse’s joints can be tricky things. But injuries or long-term wear and tear can be helped through the use of injectable drugs and other products.

Performance horses, especially those that jump, are used for reining or racing, or other high impact sports can cause an abnormal amount of stress on joints. The strain of these sports can cause unsoundness, which of course is a response to pain. Cartlidge, once it is damaged doesn’t really repair itself. It’s one of the few things in a horse’s body (and our own) that doesn’t regenerate. Cartilage, along with the lubricating synovial fluid in the joint, is important because it allows the joints to move smoothly.

If cartilage is damaged, the bones that meet within the joint will cause friction leading to inflammation and pain. This is known as osteoarthritis. Tears in the skin, muscle and even tendons and ligaments will repair naturally over time. Even bone will knit together if there is a minor fracture. But, cartilage does not. Injections can counter some of the pain a horse feels from this.

The joints most commonly injected are the knee and hock joints and the fetlock joints, along with smaller joints within the hoof. These are the joints most likely to be affected by the concussion of jumping and the quick turns and high impact of other sports.

Injections of various medications and fluids help alleviate problems by reducing inflammation which can reduce pain and further damage. There are even medications being tested that help line joints where cartilage wear is a problem. Most commonly, corticosteroids are injected into joints. This helps reduce the inflammation, which in turn helps prevent further breakdown of the cartilage. Another common product used to inject joints is Hyaluronic Acid. HA is very similar to a fluid the body produces to protect the joints. So, HA helps keep the joint moving freely.

There are other things that can be injected into joints. They can help relieve pain, replace lost synovial fluid and one of the new drugs helps put a protective barrier over the top of worn cartilage. What product is used depends on if you’re dealing with a one-time injury or a degenerative condition like osteoarthritis.

How often joints are injected depends on what condition is being treated and how the horse is to be used. The semi-retired trail horse may only need to be injected once at the beginning of the riding season. Performance horses may be injected several times during their competition season. It also depends on how long the injections appear to last. There is no exact time frame between injections. It will depend on the individual horse as to how long the injections are effective.

Although many people have horses that require joint injections of some type, and most respond well, there are a few side effects and complications that can arise. If an excessive amount of steroids are injected, it can cause the joint cartilage to be permanently and painfully damaged. Laminitis is a danger, especially if more than one joint is being injected. Any time any type of injection is given there is a danger of infection which is why the area being injected needs to be cleaned and prepared carefully. Joints can also become inflamed, although this resolves fairly quickly, and leaves no damage. And there is a danger that the pain relief that an injection brings could hide another more serious problem and cause further danger. But, the benefits are more likely to outweigh any potential problems.
Horse News Related:  The Equine Hock Joint,
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