Equine Intra-Articular Osteoarthritis Treatment Options

Pharmacological osteoarthritis therapy focuses on preventing or reducing pain and improving joint function.

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Equine Intra-Articular Osteoarthritis Treatment Options
Veterinarians can use a variety of intra-articular therapies to minimize joint damage, but it is important to identify the most effective treatments for specific equine OA cases. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse

By Raquel Baccarin, DVM, PhD, WEVA Regional Ambassador for Brazil and South America

Epidemiologic data collected from more than 100,000 horses revealed that articular lesions are the most frequent reason owners seek veterinary care for their animals (Pennell et al., 2005). Among equine joint diseases with the greatest impact and clinical relevance in orthopedics, osteoarthritis (OA) remains the most devastating. The condition is often associated with poor performance, early retirement, and a significant financial burden for owners of affected animals.

In humans, OA is classically defined as an age-related joint disease that is one of the main causes of pain and dysfunction in elderly individuals. However, in horses, the condition also affects young animals, indicating that age is not an essential factor for OA development in equids.

Equine OA is a painful and debilitating disease that can develop rapidly (when secondary to trauma) or slowly (months to years), depending on the etiology (cause). It is common in all types of horses; however, it tends to affect joints with a larger and smaller range of movement in sport horses and leisure horses, respectively

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