Tackling Tendon and Ligament Injuries

The latest therapies for injured tendons and ligaments focus on rebuilding tissue to its original strength.
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The latest therapies for injured tendons and ligaments focus on rebuilding the tissue to its original strength and elasticity.

When it comes to tendon and ligament injuries, there’s bad news, good news, and more bad news. The initial bad news, of course, is the diagnosis itself. One thing that hasn’t changed in millennia is that any injury to a horse’s leg tendons or ligaments–which make possible the lifting, extending, flexing, and shock-absorbing that equine limbs do–is a serious threat to his short-term soundness and his future career prospects.

The good news is that where once the tincture of time was the only potential cure, today’s veterinary medicine provides us with a dizzying array of treatment options for strained or shredded ligaments or tendons. Some can facilitate the healing process; others are tremendously promising in terms of minimizing scarring and encouraging the fibers to heal in an alignment indistinguishable from the original tissue–and that means everything in terms of restoring a horse to full soundness.

And the second round of bad news, if you can call it that, is there are so many treatment options now that it might be difficult to decide which path to choose.

Let’s start by looking at some of the ways in which tendon or ligament injury can occur and then examine advances in diagnostics and some of those high-tech treatments

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Written by:

Karen Briggs is the author of six books, including the recently updated Understanding Equine Nutrition as well as Understanding The Pony, both published by Eclipse Press. She’s written a few thousand articles on subjects ranging from guttural pouch infections to how to compost your manure. She is also a Canadian certified riding coach, an equine nutritionist, and works in media relations for the harness racing industry. She lives with her band of off-the-track Thoroughbreds on a farm near Guelph, Ontario, and dabbles in eventing.

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