What’s Right for Your Horse?

Joint trauma can severely limit performance and seriously affect the quality of your horse’s daily life. Owners want and need to know how best to manage equine joint disease. The most important factor in successful treatment is early detection and diagnosis.

Any of the components of joints–the joint capsule, synovial membrane, synovial fluid, cartilage, bone, and ligaments–can b

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Joint trauma can severely limit performance and seriously affect the quality of your horse's daily life. Owners want and need to know how best to manage equine joint disease. The most important factor in successful treatment is early detection and diagnosis.

Any of the components of joints–the joint capsule, synovial membrane, synovial fluid, cartilage, bone, and ligaments–can be affected by disease or injury. A thorough lameness examination is the only way to accurately diagnose joint disease, and it should be the basis for any therapy recommendations.

Treatment goals for joint injury are reduction of inflammation and healing of injured tissue. These goals are often reached by a combination of therapies that might include rest or reduced training, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), intra-articular (within the joint) injection of corticosteroids, intra-articular or systemic injections of hyaluronic acid (HA) and polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG), physical therapy, acupuncture, and/or oral nutraceuticals.

Over the past decade, much has been learned about the pathophysiology of joint disease, which has led to improved veterinary treatments. Add in today's over-the-counter supplements to the treatment options, and many owners soon find joint therapy a bewildering subject! How do you decide what's best for your horse? We discuss with owners what prescription medications might be indicated for the problem(s) being treated. While an owner or trainer can administer some medications, a veterinarian must administer others by systemic or intra-articular injection

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Written by:

Harry W. Werner, VMD, is a Connecticut equine practitioner with special interests in lameness, purchase examinations, wellness care, and owner education. Dedicated staff, continuing education and technological advances enable his practice to offer high-quality patient care and client service in a smaller, general equine practice environment. A committed AAEP member since 1979, Dr. Werner is has served as AAEP Vice President and, in 2009, as AAEP President, and he is a past president of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association.

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