Study Examines Osteoarthritis Formation After Fetlock Injury

A single impact injury did not cause generalized osteoarthritis in the fetlock during the study period.
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Study Examines Osteoarthritis Formation After Fetlock Injury
A single impact injury did not cause generalized osteoarthritis in the fetlock during the study period. | Photo: Photos.com
A recent study carried out by a team of equine orthopedic researchers at the University of Guelph Comparative Orthopedic Research Laboratory took a closer look at post-traumatic osteoarthritis in horses. Specifically, the team evaluated whether or not single impact injury to the fetlock could progress to post-traumatic osteoarthritis or osteochondral disease in horses.

According to previous research, the fetlock is the site of more traumatic and degenerative lesions on racehorses than any other joint. In fact, another study published by the same group indicated as many as 70% of 2- and 3-year-old racehorses could suffer from some form of osteoarthritis. The effects of osteoarthritis on articular cartilage have been studied more extensively than its effects on the subchondral bone (which is located under the bone surface within a joint), and the study’s authors wanted to learn more about the disease mechanism there.

Study authors Antonio Cruz, DVM, MVM, MSc, DrMedVet, Dipl. ACVS, ECVS, said the bone and cartilage structure can be thought of as a mattress and box spring.

“This is a study to investigate the mechanism of disease pertaining post-traumatic osteoarthritis,” he explained. “Is it a disease that originates initially from damage to cartilage or from damage to bone or from simultaneous damage to both? How do they relate? Is the mattress (cartilage) damaged first or the spring box (bone underneath)? This is important for horse’s health because our primary focus in dealing with osteoarthritis has been the cartilage and may be we need to think more about the bone

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Natalie Voss is a freelance writer and editor based in Kentucky. She received her bachelor’s degree in equine science from the University of Kentucky and has worked in public relations for equine businesses and organizations. She spends her spare time riding her Draft cross, Jitterbug.

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