Studies show 60% of all equine lamenesses are related to osteoarthritis, and while it is incurable, there are treatments available and research is ongoing.

There is no need to start panicking about osteoarthritis (OA) the day your foal's feet hit the ground, but its impact should be considered following every footfall thereafter.

When a horse owner says, "My horse has arthritis," the image that often first pops into our heads is an older, wizened, slightly swaybacked, retired horse standing alone in a field slowly plodding along, while his younger counterparts gallop happily past.

"This is simply not an accurate picture of a typical horse with OA," laughs C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, FRCVS, DSc, Dr. med vet (hc), Dipl. ACVS, Barbara Cox Anthony University Chair and Director of the Orthopaedic Research Center at Colorado State University (CSU).

In fact, the available data show that more than 60% of equine lameness is attributable to OA, and it is widely accepted that OA can affect any horse at any age. However, we have no firm numbers to show exactly which young horses get the disease.

Because there is no cure, the management and prevention of OA continues to be a hot topic for equine practitioners and researchers. Recently, McIlwraith presented an update on OA for his colleagues at the 11th Congress of the World Equine Veterinary Association (WEVA), held in September 2009 in Guarujá, Sao Paulo, Brazil. This article communicates McIlwraith's key points presented at WEVA and relays the most recent research on various treatment modalities to keep young horses with OA functioning