If the joints don’t move well, the body doesn’t move well. The ability to flex, extend and rotate the joints in the horse’s legs and spine sets the parameters for that athlete’s ability.
Many things contribute to joint problems such as nutritional imbalances, GI problems, trauma (acute or chronic), genetic pre-disposition, conformation, poor shoeing/trimming, metabolic disorders, normal “wear and tear,” and infections (systemic or in the joint).
A simple sprained fetlock as a yearling that isn’t treated appropriately can start the cartilage deterioration that will progress into arthritis and cause lameness a few years later.
Aggressive effective treatment of all joint injuries and continual preventative care are key to long term joint health, especially in the equine athlete.
When it comes to purchasing joint therapies, buyers beware. Oral joint supplements don’t have the quality or purity controls required by law that prescription medications do. Many orals are not of therapeutic concentrations and/or quality in spite of their labels. Compounded “generics” may not be safe or effective and many studies have shown them to be less effective than the “name brands.” NSAIDs have potential side effects and have been shown to decrease synovial fluid quality in human joints, so limit your use of phenylbutazone and flunixin meglumine.
Being overweight or in poor muscle condition puts excess strains on joints so keep your horse fit. Here are some effective safe therapies to help treat a wide range of joint pathologies:
- Bayer’s Legend (hyaluronate sodium) given IV and/or IA
- Luitpold’s Adequan (PSGAG) given IM and/or IA
- Nutramax Cosequin ASU (glucosamine/chondroitin w/ MSM & ASU) orally
- KAM’s FRE Liquid and FRE Powder
- HEEL’s Traumeel and Zeel in gel topically and tablets orally
- Chiropractic and Acupuncture treatments
This tip was brought to you by John J. Hanover, DVM and KAM Animal Services, home of KAM’s “Equine Learning Circle” FREE webinars. KAM’s “Equine Learning Circle” will be expanding on this topic and others twice a month. Go to www.kamanimalservices.com to sign up for the January 31st webinar (targeting balanced feed and supplements), which will conclude with a question and answer session. So, be ready with your nutrition questions.