Healing Cartilage

Cartilage in the joints, better known as articular cartilage, can suffer wear and tear over the years, especially in competition animals. Cartilage also can be destroyed due to injury or disease. Whatever the cause, when cartilage disappears, it

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Cartilage in the joints, better known as articular cartilage, can suffer wear and tear over the years, especially in competition animals. Cartilage also can be destroyed due to injury or disease. Whatever the cause, when cartilage disappears, it means bone is rubbing against bone, and that means pain, osteoarthritis, and usually the end of a horse’s athletic career.


The destruction of cartilage has, until recently, been an untreatable disease and was considered an irreversible process. Research has, however, offered new hope to horses with cartilage damage. Treatments, including joint lubricants, can help slow the disease process. And now, a surgical technique used in humans has been shown to enhance tissue formation in the joints of horses.


“Both long- and short-term studies show enhancement of tissue formation with the subchondral micropick technique,” reported Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, Diplomate ACVS, of Colorado State University, at the recent AAEP Convention.


The micropick technique involves punching small holes in the subchondral bone in the cartilage near a joint surface injury. The technique was developed by J. Richard Steadman, MD, an internationally renowned human orthopedic surgeon and director of the Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation in Vail, Colo. There is research collaboration between Steadman and McIlwraith, who is director of Equine Sciences and Orthopedic Research at Colorado State

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Written by:

Kimberly S. Brown is the editor of EquiManagement/EquiManagement.com and the group publisher of the Equine Health Network at Equine Network LLC.

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